IT may be costly to enrol troubled teens in The Salvation Army's hospitality course, but the end results are priceless.
Cafe youth support worker Kate Gilmour said The Salvation Army's hospitality training program has saved the lives of many local young people battling depression and suicidal thoughts.
Young people aged between 15 and 25 years are referred to The Salvation Army through schools and support agencies.
Hamilton's The Olive Branch Cafe can take 16 students at a time, while Nourish Cafe at Bolton Point can teach seven.
Both of the cafes are full at the moment, with another 30 students on the waiting list, filling up the books until March.
Statistics alone prove the worth of the program, with seven out of 10 completing a Certificate II in Hospitality.
One out of two get a job after completing the 15-week course.
But it costs The Salvation Army about $3000 for each student, which pays for the running costs of the kitchen, training, a uniform and shoes.
Chef Jake Satcliffe joined the team in January, combining his youth work and hospitality backgrounds.
Mr Satcliffe said he enjoyed seeing the transformation of the students.
"It's more than just cooking. It's food with a purpose," he said.
"It's very rewarding to see them grow in confidence."
■ The Olive Branch Cafe is open from Tuesday to Friday, 9am until 2pm, at 67 Cleary Street, Hamilton (just off Beaumont Street).