New Milford culinary school plans move to Pettibone community center
NEW MILFORD — The Community Culinary School of Northwest Connecticut, housed in a church kitchen for the past decade, is eyeing a move to the new John Pettibone Community Center.
School and town officials last week pitched the idea to Town Council members, who unanimously approved a memorandum of understanding between the town and the nonprofit to move to the center, pending approval from the Zoning Commission.
The school, a nonprofit job-placement program offering 12-week courses to unemployed or underemployed people interested in the food industry, sprang from an “Ah-ha moment” 10 years ago, Executive Director Dawn Hammacott said.
Hammacott, who had sold her bakery, helped create the school after she and town Social Services Director Peg Molina read about similar programs in other cities, Hammacott said.
Since August 2007, the school has run several sessions a year from the kitchen at St. John’s Episcopal Church.
The school has graduated 256 people, has a 96 percent job-placement rate and has donated 83,000 prepared meals to the local food bank, Hammacott said.
“The move will insure the sustainability of our program,”she said. “We would have a dedicated classroom and office space.”
The church has been a great home for the school, she added, “but we have outgrown it.”
Mayor David Gronbach said Pettibone will be a good fit.
“New Milford and the Culinary School have always been partners, and this is another partnership to allow them to grow and do more for the school, community and town,” Gronbach said.
Pettibone offers a larger kitchen, which will allow the school to expand its catering business and offset costs, said Mike Nahom, the school’s president.
Tuition costs $4,000 for the course, and most students get financial aid from the school. Federal help also is available.
Before the vote, Town Council members said the school has been a great asset to the town.
Council member Tom Esposito said he had seen the program help students find or change careers.
Approving the memorandum of understanding, which ensures the school can stay in the community center for the next 15 years, was the first step in the move, said Nahom.
The school will pay the town $1,500 a month to rent the space, the same amount it pays St. John’s.
Nahom said the school hopes to move to Pettibone next summer.
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