JSC Food Service Director Tadd Stone and Assistant Director James Consentino received the award for Workplace Development Leader of the Year from the Lamoille Valley Chamber of Congress at a presentation ceremony in February.
The award was presented to them in recognition of the program that the two initiated last summer to train unemployed community members with valuable basic food service skills to help them find jobs.
Consentino came up with the idea for the project and worked with Stone to implement it. “We partnered with the college, [food service provider] ARAMARK picked up the cost for it, and we worked with this group called Creative Workforce Solutions to help us fund it and identify the candidates,” said Stone. “Creative Workforce Solutions is a conglomerate of the [Vermont] Department of Labor and the Agency of Human Services.”
The group found potential candidates for the program and referred them to Stone and Consentino for interviews. Ten students enrolled in the free course, and the eight who passed were hired by ARAMARK to work at Johnson.
Consentino said that they researched what skills would be most valuable for their students to learn, consulting restaurant owners and their own past experiences to develop a curriculum for the eight week course that ran from June to August.
“I gave them culinary soft skills that they could use to get out into the workforce,” said Consentino.
These soft skills included learning basic cooking techniques and knife safety, as well as understanding culinary terminology. The course also included four day-long internships at local restaurants.
Stone and Consentino learned of their award (which was co-sponsored by Creative Workforce Solutions) at the annual Lamoille County Chamber of Congress banquet that JSC hosted over February break. “When we found out we were very shocked,” said Stone. “It was a nice surprise to be honored, especially by a group as big as the Chamber of Commerce.”
Consentino agreed, saying: “You wouldn’t expect to get the acknowledgement like that in the first year of the program.”
Neither of the pair knows what will become of the program for the upcoming summer. As far as they know, it will not be continued when JSC switches food service providers.