Tupelo schools to offer culinary arts program

By Chris Kieffer/NEMS Daily Journal

TUPELO – A new offering from the Tupelo School District’s Career Technical Center will prepare students for careers in the food industry.
The addition of a culinary arts program was approved at last week’s school board meeting. The program will be housed at the Link Centre.
“It was an opportunity for us to give students one more skill before they graduate from high school,” Tupelo Assistant Superintendent Fred Hill said. “One of the important industries in Tupelo is the food service industry, and the community has a need for skilled workers coming into that industry.”
Tupelo Schools Vocational Director Evet Topp said projected enrollment would be 24 students for the 2010-11 school year and 48 students for all school years after that. Because it is a two-year program, enrollment would be smaller for the first year.
Topp said that since she began as vocational director last year, she has had requests from students and from the Community Development Foundation for such a program.
The partnership with the Link Centre was especially convenient because it already had nearly all of the specifications the state requires for the culinary arts class, including a kitchen the students could use for cooking.
Topp said the only things the district would need to buy are smocks, a washing machine and a dryer.
The projected cost will be $20,000 for food, utilities at the Link Centre and transporting the students to the class.
Topp also is beginning a search for an instructor to teach the class. State funding normally would cover the cost of the teacher’s salary, but the district likely will have to pay part of it this year because of state funding cuts.
Students will be able to take a test to receive college credit for food production, hotel and restaurant management and culinary arts.
It will include classroom learning and hands-on practice.
Contact Chris Kieffer at (662) 678-1590 or chris.kieffer@djournal.com.