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Catering Class to Gain Experience at PASA Conference

Students help to prepare a meal for about 1,000 guests at The Penn Stater during last year's annual PASA Conference.Students in Pennsylvania College of Technology’s School of Hospitality will travel to State College and The Penn Stater Conference Center Hotel in February to help prepare meals for participants in the Pennsylvania Association for Sustainable Agriculture’s 15th annual “Farming for the Future” conference.

The students are members of a catering course taught by Michael J. Ditchfield, instructor of food and hospitality management/culinary arts and a PASA member.

The conference includes meals for approximately 1,000 people. Since Penn College does not have the facilities for students to prepare food for such a large group on its own campus, Ditchfield contacted The Penn Stater’s chef, Ken Stout, to find out whether he could use some student help in the kitchen.

“It has been working out great,” Ditchfield said. “Chef Stout gets some extra hands to help prepare the large meals. He also gets to preview some of our students as potential internship candidates and employees. Our students get the experience of working in a different kitchen, serving 1,000 people, more industry exposure, and they get to see some of the conference when not in the kitchen.”

The students will help to prepare meals on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 3 and 4. Students making the trip are Ashley K. Brown, Montoursville; Justin E. Graff, Linesville; Andrea L. Kessel, Milton; Matthew J. McKalips, McClure; Hannah E. Miles, Williamsport; Laurie L. Mosteller, Muncy; Jessica M. Shiko, Berwick; Robert G. Steward, Williamsport; Timothy A. Varney, Lewisburg; Rochelle A. Vitabile, Phoenixville; Lesa C. Weaver, Milesburg; Erin L. Weixel, Mill Hall; and Mariah S. Wiser, Greencastle.

All of the food served during the conference is donated or supplied by small, local sustainable farms, giving the students the opportunity to work with local products and possibly meet the suppliers. The conference includes workshops and exhibitors and typically attracts people from more than 20 states. More than 1,500 people attended last year’s event.

The School of Hospitality will also host an exhibit at the conference, which this year is themed “Weaving a Diverse Landscape: Food as the Common Thread.”

For more information about the academic programs offered by the School of Hospitality at Penn College, call (570) 327-4505, send e-mail or visit online .

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