Walton Family Foundation Awards $15 Million for Culinary Program

The Walton Family Foundation has announced three grants totaling $15 million to NorthWest Arkansas Community College to expand and transform its Culinary Arts and Hospitality Management program.

The grants will enable the school to ramp up its culinary education offerings and better respond to the growing needs of tourism-related industries in the region. Among other things, the funds will support the construction of new facilities, enhanced programming, professional development opportunities, the hiring of new leadership and additional faculty, and the rebranding of the culinary training program. As part of the rebranding effort, the college will develop new curricular paths for butchery and charcuterie, food preservation, seasonal cooking, and artisanal foods. In addition, wines, spirits, and mixology programming will be developed to enhance the school’s offerings.

After a national search, NWACC hired Dr. Glenn R. Mack as the college's first executive director of culinary arts, in which position he will be tasked with overseeing the program and its expansion. A native Arkansan, Mack covered the fall of the Soviet Union as a journalist for TIME magazine and later trained and worked in food service in China, Italy, Russia, Uzbekistan, and the United States. Mack currently serves as president-elect of the International Association of Culinary Professionals and regularly writes and presents on culinary culture and history.

"The expansion of our culinary program specifically addresses our area's workforce needs over the coming years," said Mack. "The food assessment study found that food and hospitality jobs in northwest Arkansas now represent more than twenty-eight thousand jobs. Those occupations are expected to increase 10 percent over the next decade. Our goal is to build a program that increases our region's restaurant startups and stimulates culinary entrepreneurs, which will ultimately create more demand for graduates of the CAHM program."

"NWACC Culinary Program to Expand With New Focus." Walton Family Foundation Press Release 08/11/2015.