Audit of UH Culinary Arts programs uncovers lax accounting, oversight of food inventory

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Jul 11 2013 06:32:00 PM HST

The University of Hawaii is preparing to spend $32 million dollars on a Culinary Institute on the slopes of Diamond Head. But internal audits of the current six culinary arts programs across the state say they need to run a tighter ship.

HONOLULU -

The Culinary and Pastry Arts program at Kapiolani Community College draws more than 400 students a year.

On Thursday, University of Hawaii regents heard about the need for the program to get a better handle on its food inventory and money.

The food and beverage costs at the school's various dining facilities range from a low of 40 percent of their revenue to a high of 85 percent.

"The culinary program really needs to look at these ratios to see if these make sense from a operational, instructional and financial point because these pretty high compared to what you would expect," said Glenn Shizumura, internal auditor for the University of Hawaii.

But the head of the community college system defended the program.

"We don’t run the restaurants to make money,” said John Morton, VP for Community Colleges.

Morton says the emphasis is instructional, and the restaurants are set up as teaching kitchens.

He did agree that perhaps it's time to look at a new model of managing the program.

Maui's culinary school hires outside help to do just that, and Morton said going forward, all the programs should probably be on one system.

The audit also threw light on the popular farmers market which draws some 7,000 people to the Diamond Head campus.

Shizimura estimates the Hawaii Farm Bureau is pulling in $10,000 a month and questioned whether UH should be charging more rent.

“It would appear on the surface that we may not be getting a full share of what we should be getting," Shizumura said.

"Basically, we struck a deal that we get 20-25 percent of the revenue none of the expenses and all of the publicity. That’s what we have done,” Morton fired back.

Morton said in addition to paying rent, the bureau also provides scholarships for the culinary program.

The scrutiny of the various culinary programs also raised questions about an arrangement with a food service vender who uses one of the school kitchens on weekends and breaks for a side catering business.

The school says that arrangement which went out to bid, was meant to maximize down time while reducing students costs.

These are all important questions to ask, as UH prepares to expand the culinary program.

Plans are underway to build a new $32 million Culinary Institute of the Pacific on the slopes of Diamond Head.

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