Hawk N. doing food preparation

Thanks to the Industry Readiness Training (IRT) program and Perkins in Viera, three clients were able to earn food handling certificates.

When the IRT program was in its pilot phase, Perkins was asked to be a “work pod,” or job skills training center, for the program. The first client to participate in the IRT program at Perkins was Carolyn H. Carolyn’s training began with using the dishwasher and, later on, bussing tables and cleaning the restrooms.

One day the owner of Perkins, Shahrooz Banapoor, mentioned that he would eventually like to have Carolyn and future program participants be given the opportunity to do food preparation. However, in order to do food prep, clients would first have to be certified in food handling. Banapoor told IRT Trainer Sharon D’Entremont that if she first became certified as a food manager, she would be able to train clients in food handling. Unfortunately, D’Entremont was not able to become certified right away so Banapoor said that he would train Carolyn, as well as new program participants Pam W. and Hawk N. Hawk immediately showed interest in doing food prep. Initially, Hawk received his certificate in food handling in high school, but let it expire so he had to be retrained. As a courtesy, Banapoor even bought the five books needed for the three clients and the two trainers, D’Entremont and her peer Jeanette Johnson. And no matter how many times the two trainers offered to reimburse him, Banapoor would not accept repayment for the books.

“Shahrooz did such a good job training our clients that when I reviewed the material with them, all three were able to easily explain what they had learned,” said D’Entremont.

Today, Carolyn, Pam, Hawk, as well as the two IRT trainers, are certified food handlers. Their certificates are good for three years and can be used beyond Perkins. Hawk is currently doing food prep while Carolyn and Pam are working together in the dishwashing area.