Instructor: Carver Culinary Institute Needs Funding, Community Donations

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By Heather VacLav

It's not a run of the mill home-ec class, a state of the art commercial kitchen is hidden inside of Montgomery's Carter High School. Even though there is more than half of a million dollars in equipment, an instructor says there's not enough funding for food for students to cook with.

The Carver Culinary Institute is one of Montgomery Public Schools Career Academies, the facility is only three years old, but students feel like they do more baking than cooking.

"I want more chefs to come here and teach us, because we don't get a lot of people to help us and show us how to things," said Trenicia Matthews, an 11th grader and aspiring pastry chef.

The past week, students have been slammed with Valentine's Day orders, creating cookies and cakes for the community. But culinary arts instructor Diana Wilkerson says the kitchen is built for more than that, and feels the program doesn't take advantage of the facility due to a lack of funding.

"We have to work with what we have, we do a lot of fundraising here at the school, but it still doesnt cover what we need to accomplish," Wilkerson said.

The program's goal is to get students a leg up in the workforce or college. Executive Chef Leonardo Maurelli feels the community needs to step up and donate to help the students grow.

"So they can maybe hopefully, learn how to butcher meats or learn basic stocks and sauces, you know, learning all the foundations and building blocks to becoming a culinarian," Maurelli said.

Junior Azariah Johnson says he's always wanted to be a chef, but it wasn't until Carver's Culinary Institute where he envisioned his dreams becoming a reality. 

"Before I got into this class I didnt really know much about the kitchen, but when I got here, it made my desire to become a chef even more," Johnson said.

In 2012, Montgomery Public Schools say the program received $47,000, but compared to other culinary institutes, Wilkerson says it's simply not enough.

Wilkerson said she wants to teach her students how to handle foods restaurants use on a daily basis, and also teach them how to cook healthy and use local produce. "It's something we would love to do, is have the funds coming in where we can provide the students with the experience that they need," she said.

As part of it's fundraising, the Carver Culinary Institute also offers catering services. If you want to help the program or donate you can call Carver High School at 334-269-3636.

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