COVID-19 has shaken the restaurant industry to its core, with restaurants closing or being forced to adopt different business models.
As a result, the pandemic is providing new learning opportunities for aspiring chefs, nutritionists and food handlers.
Three Cohoes students in the Capital Region BOCES Culinary Arts and Hospitality Program are not only learning how restaurants are addressing the situation, but are also earning multiple certifications so they know how to best protect themselves and customers.
Sierra Roti Roti, Jordan Stone and Cody Simmons are among a group of almost 20 culinary students taking advantage of the opportunity.
“With the crisis and a majority of food service workers out of work the National Restaurant Association is offering some free online certification courses. I’ve had everyone in my program complete the COVID Certification as an assignment and have encouraged them to complete Food Handler certification for extra credit,” said Chef Paul Dolan.
The ServSafe Takeout: COVID-19 Precautions provides an overview of coronavirus, its symptoms, and details about how it is transmitted, as well as details respiratory hygiene practices to reduce the spread of the virus, packaging considerations for takeout and/or curbside pickup and other valuable tips.
The ServSafe Delivery: COVID-19 Precautions certification program provides a review of the five-step handwashing process, respiratory hygiene practices to reduce the spread of the virus, packaging best practices to reduce risks of exposure and food contamination during delivery, cleaning and sanitizing considerations for delivery, including attention to coolers, insulated bags, and surfaces in vehicles and health and safety precautions.
According to Dolan, the ServSafe Food Handler Certification is not normally achieved by culinary students until they reach college, but with students all learning via distance learning, now is a good time to earn it.
The certification shows potential employers that students understand food safety and personal hygiene precautions, as well as a litany of other food safety measures.
More than 1,000 other Capital Region BOCES Career and Technical School students have been learning remotely since in mid-March when the COVID-19 pandemic forced schools to close across the United States. Many students, like these culinary students, are using the remote learning opportunity to further themselves professionally, earning certifications that will advance their careers.