Students at Fanshawe College are preparing weekly meals for some of London’s most vulnerable people as a way to complete their studies and give back to the community.

Students studying in Fanshawe’s Baking and Pastry Arts Management and Culinary Management programs learn to produce large volumes of food as they prepare for careers in culinary arts. Normally, Fanshawe’s on-campus restaurant and café, The Chef’s Table, sells the food produced by students. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the restaurant is temporarily closed.

To meet the educational requirement of large-scale food production, and to provide much-needed support for people in need, students have been preparing three full meals per week as well as bread and pastries for Youth Opportunities Unlimited (YOU) Youth Shelter participants since the beginning of the fall 2020 semester.

“YOU is so privileged to have this partnership with Fanshawe College’s culinary programs to help feed the young folks who are accessing our emergency shelter,” says Nick Martin, manager of Food Services at YOU. “Partnerships like this reinforce our vision of a community where youth are embraced and will thrive.”

Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many facilities were closed to public use during the winter months and some of London’s most vulnerable population struggled to find places to come in out of the cold. The City of London Homeless Prevention team created both overnight and day spaces to help support individuals in need. Fanshawe students prepared baked goods and snacks for The Winter Response Day Spaces, which were provided to marginalized individuals within our community to get in out of the cold, have something to eat and engage with the compassionate, supportive people working and volunteering at these two sites. Throughout the spring and summer, students have continued to provide food for the City’s Coffee Cart program.

“The City of London’s Homeless Prevention team is pleased with the wonderful collaboration with Fanshawe’s culinary arts program,” says Debbie Kramers, manager of Coordinated Informed Response at the City of London. “Participants are delighted with the delicious treats they receive. It is inspiring to know this group of students have started their journeys in their culinary careers by supporting London’s most marginalized individuals.”

“Collaborations between Fanshawe College and our partners throughout the city are making a real difference for our students and the community,” says Michelle Giroux, associate dean of Fanshawe’s School of Tourism, Hospitality and Culinary Arts. “Students have an opportunity to build the skills needed for their careers, and at the same time they are providing meals and comfort to those who need it most. We are so proud of our students, faculty and supporting team members for embracing such an important partnership.”

A participant in YOU’s Youth Shelter commented, “This is the best food I’ve had at a shelter and it really makes me feel like I’m cared for. It is great to know that students get to help make food for us so they can learn.”

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