PENNSAUKEN, NJ – Puratos USA has announced plans for a new bakery school in Pennsauken, NJ, its first location in the United States. The program, in partnership with Pennsauken High School, will introduce students from the largely underprivileged community to baking in hopes of creating careers in the industry.
“We can make a real difference in the lives of young people and make a significant contribution to our industry by establishing a baking school in Pennsauken, NJ, – the area in which our U.S. headquarters is located – and one of the economically disadvantaged in the State of New Jersey and the country,” said Andy Brimacombe, President of Puratos USA. “We have the skills and the drive to create a life-changing social contribution here, on our doorstep, by providing a launch pad into a career path in the baking industry for people who might not otherwise have the opportunity.”
This is the seventh such school for the ingredient supplier, with other locations in India, Brazil, Mexico, the Philippines, Romania and South Africa.
The inspiration for the project came from the realization that Puratos was in the perfect position to help disadvantaged communities seeking employment, said Brenda Fermin, director of research and development at Puratos.
“There was a disconnect – on the one hand there were a lot of children who didn’t have job opportunities, and on the other hand the baking industry was struggling to find a hand -work”, Ms. Fermin explained. “That’s where the idea came from. We are well placed, as Puratos, to find opportunities for these children.
Puratos aims to graduate 25 students from the program every four years. The Baking School is the newest addition to Pennsauken High School’s Career and Technical Education (CTE) program, a workforce readiness initiative that includes a culinary arts program.
Students at the school will learn the basics of baking, including pastry and chocolate making, with an emphasis on practical and artisan skills.
“We want to give students hands-on experience, whether at our sites or at our customers’ factories or bakeries,” Ms. Fermin said. “We will have guest lectures from industry experts and field trips to show them how what they learn is applied in the baking industry.”
Puratos has plans in the works for another international school, although the location is not yet known, Ms Fermin said. And if the Pennsauken school is successful, it also hopes to see other sites in the United States.
“We have factories in Kenosha, Wis., and Rancho Dominguez, Calif., so it would be nice if we had a baking school in those locations as well,” she said.