BY CHUCK VANDENBERG
FORT MADISON – It’s another first for Elliott Test Kitchen’s Kumar Wickramasingha’s Elliott Test Kitchen.
The Sri Lankan born chef and entreprenuer started a first-of-its-kind educational center that incorporated food preparation in 2015.
Now in 2019 he’s the winner of the first ever U.S. Siemen’s Gamesa Renewable Energy Impact Award. The award comes with a monetary grant that wasn’t disclosed at a celebration on Monday night at the Test Kitchen.
“It’s kept confidential between the selection committee and the recipient and it’s something they don’t share,” said Tony McDowell, plant manager at the Fort Madison facility.
He said the Impact Award is set up to drive positive improvement in the communities in which the corporation operates and functions. An employee at the facility submits the company or corporation to the selection committee and the qualification process goes from there.
“It’s all employee driven,” said McDowell.
“They submit the idea to the selection committee which is done at a global level. They have a standard set of criteria to make the selections and we were fortunate enough here in Fort Madison with the Test Kitchen, being one of nine that will receive the award this year.”
McDowell said the grant requires involvement of the employees where they volunteer with the different activities that take place at the Test Kitchen.
“We’ve been in here quite a bit. It’s a fantastic operation that Kumar has set up. We can’t thank him enough for what’s he’s done here. I think the results speak for themselves. So we look forward to continuing our relationship and helping drive this program forward and making it even better than it is today.”
“They’re retaining people in the community and this is a good way to support that retention. I think that’s why you’re seeing this,” said Paul Schulte, one of 11 board members who help direct the Test Kitchen Foundation.
Wickramasingha said the grant comes at the perfect time.
“This award could not come at a better time because the program is growing at an extremely faster rate than I can change the minds in the community about supporting the program,” he said.
Wickramasingha’s main mission is to bring awareness to education and let the community know how important our teachers are.
“Until we take very seriously, the profession of education there’s no solution as to what we’re going to face. That’s why it’s so important to me.”