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Instilling Change: Jah Seals

Updated: Jan 13, 2020

"Don’t get caught up in your thoughts, answer them.” After nine years of incarceration, Jah Seals has taken his own advice. A successful graduate of the Second Chance program, Jah is now a productive citizen and carving out his own path out as an entrepreneur.

After graduating college with degrees in Marketing and Finance, Jah moved to New York City. He found himself in awe of the cuisine and began pursuing a career in the food industry. His dreams were derailed when Jah was sentenced to prison for a felony conviction.

Jah was incarcerated in New York and Missouri. Instead of succumbing to prison life, Jah used his time wisely. He did a lot of self-reflection and soul searching. He grew as a person and prepared himself for a successful transition back into the community. According to Jah, “if you keep doing the same thing, then you’re never going to come out of your shell and become who you’re supposed to be.” Part of doing something different involved giving back to the community, so Jah volunteered for the restorative justice program. In the program, he helped develop and worked in the garden system which produced approximately 50,000 pounds of fresh fruits and vegetables. The produce was donated to local food pantries and senior citizen centers.

During this time, Jah kept his passion for food alive. He was a master at taking the limited “canteen” food he could purchase and creating unique and tasty meals. He continued to strive at developing his skills, both in cooking and also in growing fresh produce to cook with.

Upon reentry to the community, Jah faced many barriers. Noticing that he needed assistance, his Parole Officer referred Jah to the Second Chance Program. He worked diligently with his Resource Specialist on establishing healthy relationships and emotional stability in his life, most importantly with his child and Parole Officer. He also received assistance with job hunting, work clothes and developing a network for his artistic expression. At Second Chance, matching personal interests with employment is crucial to participant success in the workforce.

In an interview, Jah said he “could get all the support needed without biases…if you want to be successful, Second Chance has your back.” Jah is also grateful to his Parole Officer who helped him believe in himself. “Through trial and error, I found out they were in my corner,” said Jah.

Not one to lose sight of his dreams, Jah is pursuing his endeavors and honing his craft in the food service industry. He is now the owner of “Emperor’s Delight by Chef Jah”. He also caters wedding and engagement parties and is in the process of opening his first food truck. For Jah, it is important to create healthy food that is accessible to everyone. Jah is also in the process of completing a series of fiction books. When asked what advice he would give to the Kansas City community, he stated that “if you haven’t found it yet, find the love for yourself. Anything you want to do outside of you will not work until you know that you love and respect yourself.”

Second Chance is proud of the progress Jah Seals has made in his life. In addition to successful graduation from the Second Chance Program, Jah completed his parole early. He is a true example of someone who found his passion, embraced his second chance, and became successful.

For catering inquires, you can contact Jah at (816) 915-2082, or find him on Facebook. -- Second Chance is a program of the Kansas City Metropolitan Crime Commission. If you have any further questions, please contact us at 816-231-0450.

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