East Iberville awarded Syngenta Grant

Brandie Richardson Brichardson@weeklycitizen.com
Delores Pointer and Bryce Dana, site manager of Syngenta.

The East Iberville High School El Food Preparation Lab is well on its way to be up and running again thanks to an $8,000 donation from the Syngenta's Community Grant Program. The school-based café, open in the fall, offers students grades 10th through 12th hands-on pre-culinary training. 

Last November, teacher Delores Pointer was forced to shut down the lab, as the hood suppression was not adequate enough for the extensive equipment used, according to the Fire Marshall. She went before the School Industry Committee, comprised of the chemical plants on the east side of the river, and filled out an application for a grant to replace the suppression system for kitchen. 

In order to receive the grant, the request needs to be connected to the STEM field. According to Pointer, the food service industry relates to the four fields in numerous ways such as the food safety and sanitation tests required, the technology of the kitchen ranging from using the computer system to pulling out menus to all the machines used, and math as it relates to spread sheets, food costs and portion copying.

"A light bulb went off in my head because I didn't realize that STEM is every bit of apart of what we do in food service," she said. "I think that was the kicker, when I explained to them how STEM is every part of dealing with food, the microbial world, hospitality, and all the math and technology involved in food service. My kids would greatly benefit from the grant."

Though the $8,000 grant does not fully cover the complete cost of the hood suppression system, as there are five cooking stations in the kitchen, it will be able to cover one stove area. The school board is also donating a small system to be used as well.  

The class has not yet started cooking in the cafe, but are able to do minor tasks such as warming and baking. 

"It's a real heart blow to me because we do a lot of heavy cooking this time of year. At least I am on the road to getting another area covered legally by the fire marshall," Pointer added. "My students have to do lessons on soups, sauces, rouxs, all time of lab preparations they could use when it comes to applying for a job, and most of those areas are cut short because of the coding of the building." 

The cafe is open to faculty, staff and anyone in the community who wants to buy food. Funds raised from the cafe are used to sponsor state competitions and goes back to the program.