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NIACC culinary course questioned by Children

(Submitted to NorthIowaToday.com by Peter Children)

From where I sit, its easy to see in life something’s are right, and something’s are wrong. Now I am going to tell you something that is wrong…terribly wrong. The the North Iowa Area Community College started a Culinary Course, this is great. This course teaches those interested in going into the food sector how to cook and how to operate a restaurant, that among many other aspects of that particular industry. What could possibility be wrong about this?

This is what is wrong; the college is now reaching into the private sector for business to fuel this endeavor; that is wrong, and this is why. The school is funded with both state and federal funds, they operate on all sorts of grants and tax exemptions; they are officially “tax exempt” and therefore do not have the same structured overhead that a private operating restaurant must operate under. In more simple terms it is called, “unfair practice” and should be stopped.

The school has not only free labor provided by the students enrolled in the course, but those students also pay the school. The independent restaurant operator must not only pay labor, they also pay utilities, insurance, they must match unemployment taxes, collect sales tax which takes time, and we all know that in business, time is money. There is maintenance and upkeep both inside and out, interest on loans, equipment replacement, theft, spoilage, bad weather, poor labor market and the list goes on. All of the above must be figured into the menu pricing; and above all they must be competitive.

Now lets compare the independent operator to the college. The college has no rent or mortgage, no labor cost other than the instructor, students work and pay. No labor shortage, no upkeep, no insurance, and no taxes. Here is a big one; no utility bill. This means the college can under cut pricing with ease. They are funded with both state and federal monies; this means the independent restaurant operators are paying into their funding…while the school takes those who would otherwise have to book their events in the private sector, whose kidding who here?

I am in total favor of the cooking course offered by the college. Anytime you can teach someone how to earn a living is a good thing. If the college wants the students to receive “hands on” experience, then open a “small cafÈ” on campus and let them run it…but catering, receptions, reunions and all other such affairs should be halted immediately.

As long as we are looking in this direction, let’s look a bit further. Fraternal clubs like the animal clubs, Moose and Elks, Eagles, along with the Country Club, operate under special circumstances due mainly to their charters. This allows them privileges denied to independent operators who are in the same business. For one thing they pay less for licenses and can operate under a different set of rules. Yet these people now open their doors to the general public to garner more income, and they do it with impunity. I say if you want the benefits offered under Iowa law, abide by them or drive your bus down the same road as the rest of the food and beverage operators.

Peter J. Children |

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