A Warm Welcome: New Oven Installed in College Kitchen
This story was contributed by a Herbert W. Armstrong College freshman enrolled in English Composition

OKLAHOMA—The Herbert W. Armstrong College Food Services department purchased and installed a third oven in the campus kitchen on Dec. 15, 2023.

It was a long process, but eventually it all came together. Department manager Jason Cocomise said that this has been something that he has been working on for quite some time. He said the addition was “in the works for the better part of a year but was on back order.”

During the planning process, Cocomise and full-time staff member Mariana Balaa researched “various models, sizes and prices (including used) but were blessed to be approved for a brand-new oven.”

Approval came from department head Andrew Locher and Pastor General Gerald Flurry after Cocomise expressed the need to add a new oven to the kitchen. Cocomise said he thought it would be wise to get a third oven as the other two ovens in the kitchen get older.

Balaa said, “I’m fairly sure they were here when I was a student, so I would guess at least seven years, but most likely longer.”

The model was chosen due to the self-contained hood vent system on top of the oven, meaning a new hood vent and fire suppression system would not have to be installed into the ceiling of the kitchen. It also meant they did not have to get approval from the fire marshal, which made the process quicker and less costly.

From the date of purchase, the oven was on backorder for three months. Cocomise said, “We had originally hoped to have it in before the Summer Educational Program, but backorder delays for the unit prevented that.”

This, however, gave the maintenance department time to retrofit the oven. The area where the new oven was supposed to be installed had to have a drain line installed, as well as power run to that area. Maintenance employee Charles Wittsell said that it took him about 12 to 15 hours to complete that job.

“There were a few hiccups in the install, but it all worked out even better than expected,” said Wittsell. He explained that the oven was originally supposed to go in a different spot in the kitchen, but the area that it ended up in “worked a lot better and would be a lot safer.” Running a drain line to the original spot would have been a tripping hazard.

The oven is now located across from the baking station in the kitchen. It is used for making sourdough bread, bagels, English muffins, Sabbath cookies and more. Immediately after being installed, it was used to cook food for 175 singles and staff during the Singles Winter Weekend in 2023.

Cocomise expressed his excitement for the oven, saying, “It has been a real blessing and game changer to have this new oven in the kitchen.”