Culinary Program Prize

DATE: Wednesday, June 6, 2018

HCC recognized for culinary arts program expansion

HCC lab tech and culinary arts alumnus Tyler Carrier prepares mussels for a lunch at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute.

Holyoke Community College has won the 2018 Deval Patrick Prize for Community Colleges from the Boston Foundation.

HCC will receive the $50,000 prize named after the former governor for expanding its culinary arts and hospitality programs to address industry needs and for the partnerships the college put together to construct the new HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute in Holyoke's Innovation District.

First awarded in 2015, the Deval Patrick Prize recognizes community colleges that do an outstanding job partnering with employers to build effective career pathways for their students.

"In this economy, postsecondary education opens doors for graduates to succeed that would remain locked," said Paul S. Grogan, president and CEO of the Boston Foundation. "What Holyoke Community College has done with this partnership is take an already strong program to the next level. The program leverages a shared interest between Holyoke Community College and local employers like MGM – and does it in a student-focused way that makes it a win for the college, the employers and most importantly, the students setting out from the program into careers with promise and potential."

In announcing the award in Boston Tuesday, Rosalin Acosta, Mass. secretary of Labor and Workforce Development, cited HCC's efforts to scale up the labor pool to meet the needs of employers in the hospitality and food service industry, add workforce training programs for job seekers and incumbent workers, align the curriculum to meet industry needs, develop stackable workforce credentials, and increase community engagement around issues such as food insecurity.

Most impressive, she said, was HCC's opening of the $7.5 million, 20,000 square-foot culinary arts institute in downtown Holyoke.

"The facility is the region's only state-of-the-art hospitality and culinary arts center and will help increase experiential learning opportunities, especially for hands-on training," she said. "This is a primary example of Holyoke Community College's amazing ability to anticipate a workforce need and partner with an employer to address that need."

HCC president Christina Royal accepted the award on behalf of the college. She said enrollment in culinary arts and hospitality programs had already increased 10-20 percent since moving into the new space. 

"The launch of the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute is just the beginning of what we hope to accomplish with our business and community partners and we're doing our part to help with the revitalization of Holyoke, not simply for our student, but for all the residents in our communities," she said.

Part of the $50,000 prize money is allocated for a free, line-cook training program for experienced kitchen workers that started Monday, June 4.

PHOTOS by CHRIS YURKO: (Thumbanail) Faculty and staff at the HCC MGM Culinary Arts Institute stand on the second floor landing of the new facility. (Above)