Students in the culinary club at Stratford District Secondary School will be cooking 160 hot dinners in the days leading up to Christmas; half for paying members of the public, and half to be donated to people in need.
Though classes end Friday, the students will be back on Dec. 23 and 24 at the school’s restaurant — the Screaming Avocado Cafe — prepping and cooking a holiday feast that includes a roast chicken leg and thigh with a white pepper and thyme rub, creamy mash potatoes, brown sugar and sage carrots, stuffing, gravy and ginger cake for dessert.
The holiday feast is a partnership between the school and the City of Stratford’s community services department. People buying a meal can either choose an individual to donate the second meal to, or it will go to a local charity, said the city.
“We recognize it’s been a tough couple of years for everyone,” said Brad Hernden, manager of recreation and marketing for the City of Stratford, in a news release.
“Giving the gift of food and paying forward a second meal simultaneously is a unique and generous way to give this season,” said Hernden.
‘Our goal is to help’
The event is in its second year, but similar fundraising dinners have been run by the school’s culinary club for the past 17 years, said Paul Finkelstein, the school’s culinary arts teacher.
“Our goal is to help … and support people in the community, but also to develop good citizens within our students,” said Finkelstien.
“We really want the kids to understand that altruism is a way to live one’s life, and [teach them] to give and participate in community initiatives because it is the right thing to do.”
Sharing Christmas traditions beyond family
That’s a message that’s already sunk in for Grade 11 student Brigitte Briton, who was part of the holiday feast last year as well.
“Christmas is my [absolute] favorite holiday, and it’s a time when you’re supposed to spend it with family — and most importantly you’re supposed to spend it with family and food,” she said.
Briton told CBC Kitchener-Waterloo that a big dinner was a tradition her grandmother started, and is something she wants to impart on others as well.
“When I thought of the people who can’t do that, it kind of makes me sad,” said Briton. “Making the meals for people, it really helps me feel like I’m bringing my Christmas joy to other people as well.”
The dinners cost $30 and will be delivered directly to the door of those who have ordered them, on the afternoon of Dec. 24.