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QCC Receives $160,000 in Funding for Culinary Re-Entry Programs

Contact: Karen Hutner
Office of Institutional Communications
khutner [at] qcc.mass.edu
 

Release Date: 
9/14/2022

WORCESTER, MA— September 12, 2022— Quinsigamond Community College (QCC) has received $160,000 in funding to continue its food service worker training program for previously incarcerated individuals. The Re-Entry Workforce Development Demonstration Program is an initiative of the Executive Office of Labor and Workforce Development Secretary, Rosalin Acosta, and provides industry-supported curriculum in culinary training for post-release students, as well as assistance with career readiness and job placement.

“QCC is committed to providing training opportunities to all individuals seeking to enter into employment in Central Massachusetts. The work we do with returning citizens is especially important as it provides the skills needed for employment and provides our returning citizens a pathway to self-sufficiency and economic independence. Our strong partnership with the Massachusetts Restaurant Association not only provides employment opportunities, but also offers the prospect of career advancement and college credits through our culinary apprenticeship program,” said Dean of Center for Workforce Development and Continuing Education, Kathie Manning.

One graduate of the program’s summer cohort was inspired to participate by the passion of the staff at Worcester County House of Correct and QCC, as well as the support of his family.

“I will need to work and provide for myself, so this gives me more options, more tools. The whole program was good, pushing myself to do it, sticking to it, showing up. We learned different styles of cooking, but also about being in a work environment and working with people,” he said.

The culinary certificates awarded to graduates are part of QCC’s non-credit offerings, however, they can also be used to receive college credit. One student received her certificate in June of 2022 and will be starting at QCC this fall with nine credits towards her associate degree in hospitality and recreation management.

“There is a stigma as a formerly incarcerated individual, but coming in with this certificate helps a lot,” she said, adding that she is already working in food service and eventually wants to open her own restaurant.

According to the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, there is a severe need for people to fill vacancies in the hospitality industry, especially entry-level positions. Participants in this program earn industry recognized credentials including ServSafe Food Handlers, FEAST, and Mass Allergen certifications which are necessary for the culinary industry.

The program is made possible by a strong partnership between many organizations. QCC, Worcester County Sheriff’s Office, Worcester House of Corrections, Snapchef, Mass. Restaurant Association, Latin American Health Alliance, LIFT Worcester, MassHire Central Region Workforce Board and MassHire Career Center all collaborated to make this program a success.

“I’ve always believed that the best social program is a job,” commented Worcester County Sheriff Lew Evangelidis. “We are proud of the partnership between Quinsigamond Community College and the Worcester County Sheriff’s Office that allowed for the development of this program. Graduates of the program are able to pursue extraordinary employment opportunities upon release.”

“It’s these types of community partnerships that are making positive changes to our region and will have long-lasting, positive implications for our local economy,” said QCC President Dr. Luis G. Pedraja.

Quinsigamond Community College is the most affordable higher education in Worcester County. As a regional leader in education and workforce development, QCC serves the diverse educational needs of Central Massachusetts by providing affordable, accessible, and high quality programming leading to transfer, career, and lifelong learning.

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