As the food industry continues to be a source of significant employment opportunities in the Bronx and around New York City, Hostos Community College is proud to announce several new programs aimed at keeping the Bronx moving forward.

These programs represent a direct response to the needs of area employers that were developed and are currently offered by the College’s Division for Continuing Education & Workforce Development.


For students interested in promoting a more green lifestyle, a Customer Service Training for Farmers’ Markets and Green Markets began in Fall 2013 with 17 students. Students who successfully complete this program in February are guaranteed an interview with GrowNYC, a hands-on non-profit whose responsibilities include operating the world famous Union Square Greenmarket, building community gardens, educating about environmental issues, and more.

A new cohort of 20 students will start this training in late February. Those who successfully complete this program will interview with Harvest Home, New York State’s largest operator of farmers markets in high-need, low income communities. Founded in 1993, the organization currently manages a network of 18 markets in the culturally diverse sections of the Bronx, Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens, reaching 180,000 shoppers a season.

Karen Báez, who is also studying nursing at Hostos, is part of the first cohort and hopes to land a job with GrowNYC. The 22-year-old Bronx native said her vegan lifestyle has always attracted her to farmers’ markets and the program has already taught her a lot in a short time.

“We have met market site managers and regional managers for markets in the Bronx and Manhattan. It surprised me how very local all the foods are. They come from farms in this region and that is something I also like,” Báez said.

Báez said she has also learned valuable interpersonal skills through customer service training sessions that include role playing and interacting with farmers and stand managers, which she believes will also help her in her nursing career.

Students will receive an Hostos Certificate upon completion of either the supermarket or famers’ market programs.


Launched in Spring 2013, this pilot professional development program works with employees in National Supermarket Association stores in the Bronx to help improve customer service skills.

After detailed conversations with Supermarket Association four workshops were developed, including Introduction to Customer Service, Verbal and Non-Verbal Communication, Managing Conflict/Resolving Problems, and Interacting with the Workplace Team/Your Role as a Supervisor.

Peter Mertens, Interim Assistant Dean of the Continuing Education Department at Hostos, was pleased to announce that 45 students have already participated in the program and that Hostos is working to extend and enhance the program with the Supermarket Association in 2014. Thanks to the success of this pilot, the Continuing Education Department also is planning to offer more general customer service programs this spring to other employers in the region that are interested in further training for their employees.

Zulema Wiscovitch, Executive Director of the National Supermarket Association, said Hostos has already helped to vastly improve Supermarket Association stores in the Bronx.

"We are very proud of our partnership with Hostos Community College to provide employees of NSA member stores specialized customer service training to improve the supermarket shopping experience," Wiscovitch said.

Specifically, the workshop training model engages students in independent and group exercises, reading and analyzing case studies, and participating in role-plays, and other active learning activities. Mertens added that the training is just one more example of Hostos responding to the needs of area employers.

“Continuing Education & Workforce Development continues to adapt our training programs to changes in the job market and we help businesses and individuals respond to the changing practices and skills requirements within specific industries,” Mertens said. “Expanding our Food Industry training programs allow us to match trained individuals to existing jobs.”

As part of another exciting partnership, the Division for Continuing Education & Workforce Development is teaming up with Zaro’s Bakery to provide onsite English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) classes to its employees beginning late January. Hostos has already screened Zaro’s employees, and the program will focus on four basic skills: speaking, listening, reading, and writing.

Hostos is constantly looking for new and innovative ways to build bridges through its Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development. For more information about these and other programs, go to:

About Hostos Community College
Eugenio María de Hostos Community College is an educational agent for change that has been transforming and improving the quality of life in the South Bronx and neighboring communities since 1968. It serves as a gateway to intellectual growth and socioeconomic mobility, as well as a point of departure for lifelong learning, success in professional careers, and transfer to advanced higher education programs. The College’s unique "Student Success Coaching Unit" provides students with individualized guidance and exemplifies its emphasis on student support services.

Hostos offers 29 associate degree programs and five certificate programs that facilitate easy transfer to CUNY’s four-year colleges or baccalaureate studies at other institutions. The College has an award-winning Division of Continuing Education & Workforce Development that offers professional development courses and certificate-bearing workforce training programs. Hostos is part of The City University of New York (CUNY), the nation’s leading urban public university, which serves more than 480,000 students at 24 colleges.