College to Open Hospitality Institute, Move Programs
BLUE BELL PA – Montgomery County Community College has begun transforming a former bookstore (above) on its Blue Bell campus, 340 Dekalb Pike, into its new Hospitality Institute. The 20,400-square-foot learning center will prepare students for high-demand occupations in the hospitality and restaurant industries, it said.
The institute will feature a student-operated restaurant (below) to serve both the campus and surrounding community. The building also will include a pastry and bakery retail shop featuring student creations, a pasta laboratory, and a chocolate laboratory. These spaces are intended to help students study different aspects of operating a culinary business.
Long-range plans call for planting fruit trees and gardens to use fresh ingredients in the culinary labs and restaurant, while continuing to support local food pantries. The college said it wants to encourage sustainable living, and suggested that using college-grown produce can demonstrate benefits of “the local farm-to-fork approach” for healthier recipes and the environment.
College President Dr. Victoria L. Bastecki-Perez called it “a game-changer for workforce and economic development” designed to assist hospitality and restaurant industries “as they continue to rebound from the pandemic.”
“In the next few years, the demand for skilled employees and leaders in these areas will continue to grow,” institute Director Karima Roepel predicted. Mike Bowman, president and CEO of the Valley Forge Tourism and Convention Board, agreed. The county’s more than 80 hotels and 1,800 restaurants, he said, will “welcome these future workers to our growing tourism family,” with the college program leading “the entire region.”
It also represents a consolidation for the college. Its tourism and hospitality management, culinary arts, and baking and pastry arts programs, currently conducted in Lansdale, will relocate to the Blue Bell campus. To them MCCC expects to add beverage management, fermentation science, nutrition science, and other programs to its portfolio.
About coming programs
Similar to its tourism and hospitality management program, the proposed new beverage management program addresses the business side of the food industry. Students will learn how to manage beverage outcomes to enhance operations, improve menu development and generate revenue.
Its new fermentation science and technology program will focus on the science of fermenting food and beverages. Students will learn about fermentation processes and methods, as well as the safety, culinary, and nutritional aspects of fermented foods and beverages. They also will have opportunities to participate in internships with industry partners.
The nutrition science program focuses largely on dietary and health issues concerning food, eating and medicine. Nutrition science students often pursue careers as dietitians and nutritionists. Those in the program will both study nutrition theory and learn how to prepare the food. Its “combined approach,” the college said, is “valued by prospective employers.”
Beyond its programs, the institute will offer a variety of non-credit classes for anyone who wants to learn culinary and baking skills. It also anticipates hosting group or company team-building sessions and date nights.
MCCC’s Foundation is actively pursuing partnerships for philanthropic support to help grow more opportunities for students at the institute, the college reported. For more information on those efforts, send an e-mail to foundation Executive Director Jay Browning, CFRE, to firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the institute, send an e-mail to Roepel at email@example.com.
Photos provided by Montgomery County Community College