Responding to the growth of the local food industry, Lincoln Land Community College’s Workforce Development division is launching a Value-Added Local Food certificate program this fall for aspiring food business entrepreneurs and those seeking employment in the farm-to-table culinary field. The new courses are being offered at the LLCC-Springfield campus, 5250 Shepherd Road, beginning in Module II of the fall semester, which starts Oct. 20.
“A value-added product is something grown or raised by a farmer and then increases in value through labor and creativity, resulting in a higher net worth for the producer while increasing local food options for consumers,” states Marnie Record, workforce specialist and developer of the value-added certificate program curriculum. “This pioneering new program is a cross between hands-on laboratory practice and online learning for the value-added local food field, and combines culinary, local food, and business disciplines. The program expects to result in the development of new food businesses in Sangamon County and around the state to grow our economy by capturing a portion of the $48 billion Illinois consumers spend annually for food.”
The Value-Added Local Food program focuses on preparing local food professionals to meet the growing needs of the local food system by expanding students’ knowledge base, comprehension and experience-based expertise. Courses are 75 percent lab time and 25 percent online using the Department of Labor NTER Learning Platform, with the exception of Local Food Regulations, which is 100 percent online. Graduates will be well-positioned to advance their careers in a field that has experienced a farmers’ market growth rate of 150 percent in the last decade.
Courses being introduced this fall include Food Preservation Methods focusing on modern techniques of food preservation for culinary and food business applications, in additon to Value-Added Herbs emphasizing culinary and healthful herbs used in a wide range of products. The value-added courses also include practical experiences developing a product such as packaging, labeling and market development. Future classes include Local Food Cuisine; Fermentation; Local Food in Institutions; Local Food Regulations; and Sauces, Condiments, and Dressings.
Instructors for the program are veteran educators and practicing professionals doing applied work in their fields while teaching. Students benefit from direct interaction with faculty members who bring their expertise, commitment, and passion for teaching and advancing the local food system.
The program curriculum was created through funds provided by the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training (TAACCCT) grant.