At a groundbreaking ceremony Thursday for the Claude Moore Educational Complex in downtown Roanoke, the Al Pollard Memorial Foundation presented the Virginia Western Community College Educational Foundation with a $100,000 donation to support Virginia Western’s culinary arts program and student scholarships.
The gift was announced as the College and the Roanoke Higher Education Center initiated a $5 million expansion of the Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program in the historic Gainsboro neighborhood.
Currently, more than 330 students takes classes in Virginia Western’s culinary arts program, which offers a two-year associate’s degree as well as industry certifications. Since 2013, the Educational Foundation has awarded 128 culinary scholarships, thanks to the support of the Al Pollard Memorial Foundation.
Al Pollard was a Roanoke restaurateur behind Corned Beef & Co., Frankie Rowland’s and 419 West who died suddenly in 2006.
“The Al Pollard Board is honored to have made a difference in so many people’s lives,” said Board member C.J. King. “We feel like Al lives on through the efforts of the students and the culinary school. This current donation continues to support an effort that Al Pollard would have loved because it was his life and his passion.”
The Claude Moore expansion will more than double the space for the College’s popular culinary program. It is expected to be complete by August 2018.
“This facility will usher in a new era for culinary arts in the Roanoke Region while commemorating the Gainsboro community’s strong history,” said Dr. Robert H. Sandel, President of Virginia Western. “Our students will have access to the cutting edge equipment and training that will allow them to build strong careers and support the local tourism and restaurant industries.”
The Al Pollard Memorial Foundation previously received statewide recognition for its generous support of Virginia Western’s culinary arts program. In 2011, it received the Chancellor’s Award for Leadership in Philanthropy at an event hosted by the Virginia Foundation for Community College Education.
The Al Pollard Culinary Arts Program at Virginia Western is nationally accredited by the American Culinary Federation. To learn more about the program, visit: www.virginiawestern.edu/academics/btt/programs/culinary.php.