Cargill’s North American protein business, headquartered in Wichita, Kansas, is setting out to inspire the next generation of culinary arts professionals with a $400,000 grant to WSU Tech to support the creation of a new culinary arts institute in downtown Wichita.
Earlier this year, WSU Tech broke ground on the new National Institute of Culinary and Hospitality Education (NICHE) campus, a state-of-the-art culinary school that will be based in the historic Henry’s Building in downtown Wichita. The campus will be the center of learning for WSU Tech Culinary Arts and Hospitality and Events Management programs and will feature commercial kitchens, classrooms, a demonstration kitchen and an open-to-the-public food hall.
Cargill’s donation to the WSU Tech Foundation will outfit the demonstration kitchen with professional cookware and equipment and will also provide scholarship support to students from under-represented communities who are looking to pursue an education in culinary arts and hospitality. Students enrolled in the new program will develop key skills to succeed in the dynamic food service and hospitality industries, including specialized training across food and beverage operations, menu development and customer service.
“Our culinary team is deeply engaged with WSU Tech, supporting curriculum development and serving as adjunct faculty,” said Chef Pete Geoghegan, culinary director of Cargill’s North American protein business. “We are proud to grow our support providing physical and financial resources to ensure students have the opportunity and access to the skills and training to pursue a rewarding career in culinary arts and hospitality.”
“We couldn’t be more thrilled to have Cargill as a partner in this new venture known as NICHE,” said Dr. Sheree Utash, president of WSU Tech. “We believe Cargill’s involvement will elevate all aspects of this project and the associated academic programs. Their commitment to innovation and sustainability directly align with our values, and we know their investment will have a positive impact on student experience and outcomes.”
Cargill is the latest partner in supporting WSU Tech’s mission to create an accessible, sustainable and innovative culinary institute. At the NICHE ground-breaking ceremony in August 2021, Envision (a nonprofit who promotes employment, advocacy and independence for those who are blind or low vision) announced a first-of-its-kind partnership with WSU Tech to offer professional culinary training to individuals who are visually impaired. Cargill’s investment will offer opportunities for under-represented students to gain the skills needed to excel in the culinary and hospitality industry.
In addition to support for WSU Tech, Cargill’s protein headquarters made a recent $100,000 donation to Empower, a Wichita based non-profit that’s working to revitalize the city’s North End neighborhood. Empower provides the neighborhood’s predominantly Hispanic community with workforce-readiness and small business development resources.
Cargill’s North American protein headquarters and world-class Culinary Innovation Center are based in Wichita, The company has had a presence in the region for more than two decades and currently employs more than 900 residents from the region.