SCC TIPS Program Makes Impact
BY KAREN MANNING
Sandhills Community College
In a culture increasingly aware of the broad impact of drinking and driving, Sandhills Community College's hospitality and culinary technology program is serving up a glass of confidence not only to its students, but also to restaurant owners in the community.
The Training for Intervention Procedures (TIPS) certification program teaches students how to inspire a responsible drinking culture and help to reduce alcohol abuse, prevent personal injury, and mitigate property damage. The program is taught exclusively in Moore County by college instructor Pam Jensen.
"I'm excited about the success and value of TIPS," Jensen says. "This training is important because it extends beyond students obtaining a degree. It teaches students real world techniques that are applicable not only in the industry, but additionally in everyday scenarios, which can impact lives. TIPS training gives students the tools to directly diffuse a potentially volatile situation."
TIPS was developed by the Health Education Foundation, of Washington, D.C. It's a skills-based training program that empowers the hospitality industry, already squarely on the front lines in a politically-charged war on drunk driving and underage drinking, to recognize potentially abusive drinking behavior and intervene on customers' behalf.
For servers especially, it's a program that inspires confidence in dealing with customers directly. And for Sandhills students on their way to a career in the hospitality industry, many of them already working in restaurants and bars, it's an invaluable two-way tool of diplomacy.
"I have way more confidence in dealing with my guests," says recently-certified Sandhills student Kristin Terry, 21, "TIPS has taught me to be more observant, to watch for changes in guest behavior that indicate intoxication - for example going from quiet to loud. I can 'read' people better now, and I can tell my guests 'You've had enough' without offending them, in a way that encourages them to stop drinking now and come back later."
Terry, a former Disney World hospitality intern currently in her second semester at Sandhills and now working part time as a server/bartender at Outback Steakhouse, says TIPS training is essential to the success of the hospitality industry overall.
"This kind of training is critical," she says. "My guests often don't realize they're under the influence of alcohol. They think their tolerance is higher than it really is. That's just one of the things I learned in TIPS training."
Another TIPS-certified Sandhills student, Daniel Villatoro, 20, works behind the scenes at Curt's Cucina, an Italian restaurant in Southern Pines. He agrees with Terry that TIPS training is eye-opening.
"I was surprised by a lot of things I learned," Villatoro says. "Intoxication can be identified in a number of ways, sometimes even in just the way a customer orders a drink. Ultimately, it could be a huge liability, and I have more confidence now in preventing it from becoming one."
Notably, both Terry and Villatoro say they're interested in owning their own businesses one day. Terry wants to open an event-planning/catering company, while Villatoro wants to own a restaurant.
The two students, both certified by Jensen, say they're adamant about the value of the Sandhills culinary program, which includes TIPS training. Both say their confidence in dealing with customers has increased substantially as a result of the program, and this has bolstered their willingness to become hospitality entrepreneurs.
"There's no question in my mind that TIPS has far-reaching impact," says Jensen, who has more than 20 years experience in the hospitality industry. "It saves lives, it decreases the frequency of DUI arrests. It makes servers' jobs easier, and it even saves restaurateurs money on the cost of their liability insurance. Ultimately, TIPS can make a positive contribution to our society as a whole. That's why I'm so passionate about the importance of this training."
Sandhills' culinary arts and baking and pastry arts programs provides specific training required to prepare students to assume positions as trained culinary professionals in a variety of food service settings, including full-service restaurants, hotels, resorts, clubs, catering operations, contract food service, on cruise ships and in health care facilities.
The majority of mid to high-end restaurants in the Sandhills area employ chefs, cooks and other restaurant personnel who were trained through these programs.
For more information about SCC's culinary arts program, see the hospitality and culinary arts section of programs and majors area of the college's website or contact Chris Currier at (910) 695-3760 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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