GCCC adds mobile classroom for food science program





Garden City Community College's food science students now have a new mobile training classroom that arrived Monday on campus.

The customized semi-trailer will provide refrigeration for safe meat transportation, cutting tables, a packager, meat smoker, interactive whiteboards, laptop computers, carts and extensive instructional computer hardware and software. The mobile classroom expands to approximately 920 square feet and can accommodate up to 30 students.

Clint Alexander, GCCC animal science instructor and meats team coach, said there's a need for additional USDA inspectors after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration Food Safety Modernization Act of January 2012. The trailer will assist in that training.

The measure gives the FDA the authority to order food product recalls, requires greater frequency of inspections and focuses those inspections on potential risk. It also stipulates that food processing facilities write and follow food safety plans, in addition to addressing natural and man-made risks to the safety of fresh products.

Alexander said Tuesday that he was able to tour the mobile classroom.

"The functionality will lend itself to teaching in a remote location. The mobile lab will have an instrumental impact on GCCC," he said.

The semi-trailer is a major component of GCCC's TRAC-7 grant program, designed to engage potential students in a series of career training opportunities, including GCCC's Food Science Program for men and women who want to work in the fast-growing food safety industry. The TRAC-7 consortium, coordinated by the Technical Institute at Washburn University, includes GCCC and five other Kansas community colleges. The seven programs were made possible by a Trade Adjustment Assistance Community College and Career Training Grant from the U.S. Labor Department, and the TRAC-7 name refers to the seven institutions and the acronym Technical Retraining to Achieve Credentials. GCCC is developing the food safety and inspection program with a $1.7 million share of the grant.

Lenora Cook, GCCC TRAC-7 project manager, said the college will be able to take the trailer anywhere in Kansas, as well as neighboring states.

"That's important because when you have the entire staff of a restaurant or a food processing facility in need of training, the classroom can literally go to them," she said.

Other components of GCCC's program include improvements at the John Collins Vocational Building, ranging from lab and classroom renovation and expansion to a walk-in cooler and the addition of two full-time personnel, including an instructor and a technical education case manager.

The grant program is designed to support the collaborative efforts of the participating colleges to provide Kansas workers with academic and industry-recognized credentials and training necessary to meet the need for a skilled workforce.

Based at the John Collins Technical Building on the Garden City campus, Cook said the program and mobile classroom will help meet the growing need for credentialed personnel in the field of meat and food safety inspection.

"Our program will train workers to serve in the inspection of restaurants, meat packing and food processing plants, cafeterias and other facilities that provide food to the public," she said.

In addition to visiting www.trac7.org, individuals interested in the program may contact Cook at lenora.cook@gcccks.edu or 276-9521.

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