VIU culinary arts students pack baked goods into reusable containers for donation to Nanaimo Salvation Army meal centre. (Vancouver Island University photo)

VIU culinary arts students pack baked goods into reusable containers for donation to Nanaimo Salvation Army meal centre. (Vancouver Island University photo)

VIU culinary arts students providing 200 meals each week to Salvation Army

Campus cafeterias have been closed but cooking has continued

There aren’t enough people on Vancouver Island University campus to enjoy meals made by culinary arts students, so some of the food is now going off-campus to the Salvation Army.

Vancouver Island University is providing the equivalent of about 200 meals per week to the Salvation Army’s New Hope Centre in Nanaimo, according to a VIU press release.

Both cafeterias at VIU’s Nanaimo campus are temporarily closed during the pandemic, but the cooking has continued.

“Just like a carpenter needs wood to work with, the culinary students need food to work with in our internationally recognized chef training programs,” said Jason Lloyd, chairman of VIU’s culinary arts program, in the release.

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The university has moved to a hybrid learning model during the pandemic, but in the culinary arts program, about three-quarters of the hands-on classroom instruction takes place in VIU’s commercial kitchens.

Students are cooking for the fine-dining restaurant the Discovery Room, which has remained open with limited cooking capacity, but there is still an “abundance” of food being prepared daily, the release said.

“To properly train students in the fundamentals of food preparation in a modern industrial kitchen setting, we still need to bring in food, regardless of where it’s going to go afterwards,” said Lloyd. “But we had zero interest in having any of it go to waste.”

VIU’s press release notes that the Salvation Army’s New Hope Centre serves lunches and dinners and provides other items when available. Philippe Lavoie, food program manager with the Salvation Army Nanaimo, said the charity is currently providing approximately 10,000 meals per month and said the need has “more than doubled” since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“When you are living on the street and it’s cold and you’re hungry and someone provides you with a high-quality meal that looks and tastes good it tells those people we care about them, and we do…” he said.

“I am proud to serve the food we receive from VIU. The quality and consistency of the food students are preparing and providing to the Salvation Army meal centre adds flavour and spice and is a testament to the teaching and learning happening at VIU.”

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