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2014 December 19 - 05:31 am

Students Learn Lesson By Feeding Homeless

Illinois Culinary Students Prepare Meal for Needy


JOLIET, Ill. (AP) — Paul Bringas believes Joliet Junior College culinary students need to learn more than braises and glazes.

“We teach knife skills and life skills,” the chef instructor said before about 40 students began boxing up almost 500 meals that will be delivered to local homeless shelters.

“These students aren’t just learning how to prepare food, but see how important it is to give something back to their community,” Bringas said.

For the past four years, culinary students from Chef Kyle Richardson’s class have made hunter’s stew, rice pilaf or mashed potatoes and a dessert — cobbler this year — for the needy.

“The college has always done a canned food drive, so I thought ‘Feed the Hungry’ would be a good project for our students,” Richardson said. ‘The missions that focus on families seemed to be the right fit.”

First-year student Betsy Banks said getting the meals ready is a natural fit, since lessons this semester have focused on food preparation.

“This is what we’ve been studying (now put) to work,” Banks said. “We prepare food all the time, but knowing what (cause) this is going to feels really good. It’s wonderful.”

“We use trims from all of the meats we work with for the stew,” Bringas said. Some of the beef and poultry leftovers are frozen earlier, although the main cooking is done two days before the meal.

Bringas said students spent about an hour as “an assembly line”, putting each meal into small containers, picked up later in the day by shelter volunteers.

About 250 meals were taken to Daybreak Center on Cass Street and about 200 to MorningStar Mission on Washington Street for lunch.

“Daybreak clients do look forward to special days and events like (the JJC) meal,” Catholic Charities spokeswoman Kathleen Langdon said.

MorningStar Executive Director Marilyn Farmer believes the little touches the chefs add make a standard meal stand out.

“Things are seasoned a little differently,” Farmer said. “And just (noticing) that makes our guests feel that somebody cares about them. That’s the message we’re trying to get across to everyone in the dining room.”

Any added meals not needed by Daybreak and MorningStar are offered to other area shelters and food pantries.

“The other thing we want is for the students to realize this is just one meal we’ve helped them with, but there’s the next day and the next,” Bringas said.

“The kids think it’s a ton of food, and I’ll tell them all of this will be gone by tomorrow night,” Richardson agreed.

Langdon said having a single meal still assists Daybreak’s pantry, which has “never been so low” on food.

“It is unusual that donations have been so low recently. We thought they would’ve picked up as fall came, but that hasn’t been the case,” she said. “Hopefully, (the level of donations) will explode for the holidays.”

Source: The (Joliet) Herald- News, http://bit.ly/1ydgGUo

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