SYLMAR : 30 Vendors Receive Culinary Certificates

Thirty sidewalk and street vendors trained in food preparation, sanitation and handling have earned certificates from a Mission College culinary arts program and will receive state food handling permits.

The vendors, once targeted by Los Angeles city health officials for operating unregulated, sometimes unsanitary food stands, completed the yearlong course with the aid of a $250,000 city grant. They will be honored at the college's culinary arts awards ceremony at 6 p.m. Thursday on the Sylmar campus.

The grant was administered by the college, which last year opened a training kitchen in Panorama City to teach area vendors proper food storage and cooking techniques, in addition to building entrepreneurial skills and helping them apply for business permits.

College administrators said they recognized a need for the program about two years ago after health officials conducted several raids on vendors operating on Blythe Street in Panorama City.

"The basic purpose of the program was to educate these people," said Louis Zandalasini, culinary arts instructor at the college.

"We want them to know it's just not safe--or acceptable--to husk corn in the bathtub. They really had no idea about health codes," Zandalasini said, noting that many street vendors are recent immigrants.

To attend food handling courses and earn state permits, vendors are required to show proof of U. S. citizenship, officials said.

The college has applied for a second grant to continue the training program.

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