SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — Students can now get a degree in culinary arts at Johnston Community College.

Last week the school announced they’re expanding their culinary arts program to now offer an Associate’s Degree in Applied Science. It’s all thanks to new grant money.

The college received over $300,000 from the North Carolina State Board of Community Colleges.

The school says the board approved the amount as part of a $5 million allocation to assist in the creation of high-cost workforce programs at 14 North Carolina Community Colleges.

The goal is to build capacity for workforce training in high-demand occupations across the state. 

Currently, students at JCC can receive a certificate in culinary arts. 

“We thank the State Board for awarding these funds. We know that this program will open new doors for our students and will contribute to Johnston County’s economy,” says JCC President Dr. Vern Lindquist.

“The culinary arts program will provide a strong foundation in food preparation, baking, food service management, and entrepreneurship,” added Vice President of Instruction Dr. Camille Reese. 

Robbie Carver is a culinary instructor at the school. He says they decided to expand the program due to popular demand.

“We have a lot of hospitality centers, a lot of restaurants coming in, a new food hall that just came in last year. Some local restaurants, downtown Clayton’s popping up even all the way up to Four Oaks,” said Carver. “Every week I get a phone call from someone that has a restaurant, someone that’s opening up a restaurant and they’re looking to hire students.”

Carver says they plan to begin the degree program this fall, pending approval, and hopefully start enrolling students as early as this spring.