QUINCY — Every time Angela Caldwell thought she had a count for the number of businesses interested in being a part of the food service job fair at the Quincy Town Center on Wednesday, that figure would grow again.
“So it got to a point where we just stopped,” Caldwell said with a laugh. “If it’s not in the hundreds, it’s close to it.”
Caldwell is the director of workforce development for the Great River Economic Development Foundation, which is organizing the job fair. Applications will be accepted for hosts and hostesses, servers, cooks, bartenders, dishwashers, kitchen managers and other food service positions.
Interested people can attend from 8-11 a.m. or from 1-4 p.m. General applications will be available for jobseekers to fill out. Other people will perform interviews. Caldwell says all information received on Wednesday will go into a “job bank.” Local food service businesses can contact anyone in that bank.
“The hard work (of interviews) will already have been done for them,” Caldwell said.
Caldwell said a “silent partner” recently asked GREDF officials to organize the job fair. That partner also will bring people to help collect applications and conduct interviews.
Many Quincy restaurants have announced on social media plans to trim hours, limit services, close for extra days or shut their doors altogether. However, when the job fair was announced last week, Caldwell said she received calls from nearly every food service business imaginable — grocery stores, schools, hospitals, wholesale dealers and nursing homes, just for starters.
Asked how many food service positions are available in Quincy, Caldwell said, “If I had to put a number on it, I don’t think I could do the number justice.”
“For those individuals who haven’t thought ahead and started looking for a job, now is the time. Once the federal level says we’re done (with stimulus unemployment benefits), then everybody’s going to be looking for a job.”
— Angela Caldwell, director of workforce development for GREDF
Caldwell didn’t want to offer an opinion as to why the need for food service employees is so dire in Quincy because “it may get me in trouble,” she said with a smile. However, asked if she thought at least part of the problem is that potential workers in Illinois are finding it easier to stay home and receive enhanced unemployment benefits because of the pandemic, Caldwell grinned.
Pandemic unemployment assistance in Missouri and Iowa will no longer be offered after June 12.
“The federal stimulus is not going to last forever,” she said. “For those individuals who haven’t thought ahead and started looking for a job, now is the time. Once the federal level says we’re done, then everybody’s going to be looking for a job.”
Caldwell says people of all ages are encouraged to apply.
“If you’re 15 with a work permit, or if you’re 99 and can still get around, come on out,” she said. “(Businesses are) looking for people who will show up to work on time, who have a strong sense of work ethic, and people who will be friendly. We’re talking about food service. Those soft skills are what they want.”
Applicants should have a copy of their resume, and Caldwell says they should “dress for success.”
She hopes Wednesday is busy at the Town Center.
“What really is going to happen?” she said. “We might have people waiting to interview folks and five people show up, and we have so many people waiting to interview that the people we bring in can’t even get a lunch break. I have no clue what to expect.”