Blender Learning Cafe to offer new workforce program

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BDN file photo High school students who have been working at the Blender Cafe will soon have new coworkers. The Beloit Public Library is adding a new program to help those receiving food stamps become more employable.

BELOIT - The Beloit Public Library is expanding its Blender Learning Cafe program to help those on food stamps find employment.

Library Director Nick Dimassis said the Blender currently gives Beloit Memorial High School students interested in culinary and hospitality fields first-hand job experience. However, the library soon will be offering a program for those who are at least 16 years old and currently receiving FoodShare benefits to learn more about the hospitality industry. This new Hospitality Training Program at the Blender Learning Cafe is a six-week course. The library currently is recruiting participants for the first program that will start in August.

Those who regularly visit the Blender Cafe regularly will soon see four new faces.

"The skills those at the Blender Cafe are learning could apply to any field," Dimassis said. "Students are learning soft skills they could take with them to any career or occupation."

Dimassis said these four participants will receive hands-on training, follow a basic curriculum with a textbook that's included and will be guaranteed a job interview at a local hospitality group. There will be two participants in a morning session and two in an afternoon session.

Dimassis said the goal is to make them more employable.

"We feel the Blender program has been very successful so far, and we're expanding on that success," Dimassis said.

Amy Mitchell, marketing and communications coordinator, said offering workforce development is one of the ways libraries have maintained their relevance in the community.

This program is being run through partnerships and grants with various state and federal agencies, including the FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET) Program, the Southwest Wisconsin Workforce Development Board, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the USDA Food and Nutrition Service.

Once the first course has been completed, Dimassis said the library will re-evaluate the program and make any necessary changes. He hopes to offer the program year-round.

The Blender Cafe has been open now for more than two years.

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