08:33 AM

Giving back: Culinary Management students continue tradition of preparing, donating Thanksgiving meals to students, community

Turkey dinner - carrying on tray

For a dozen years, Culinary Management students at WCTC have taken part in an important Thanksgiving tradition: they make complete holiday meals for families in need – some right in the WCTC College community, and this year, some in surrounding communities.

For the past several days, students have been busy practicing their culinary skills by prepping, cooking and packaging meals, which will be donated to 20 WCTC students and their families, plus another 10 families enrolled in the Safe Babies Healthy Families (SBHF) program within the Easterseals organization. The SBHF program supports families (with children pre-birth to age 5) with prenatal services, childbirth education, parenting groups and individualized support based on assessed needs. These families reside in Waukesha, Milwaukee and Walworth counties.

In all, the Culinary students have been cooking 15 large turkeys plus the traditional sides – stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, rolls, maple glazed carrots and pumpkin pies (pies made by WCTC Baking and Pastry students) – in their Principles of Food Preparation, Garde Manger and Culinary for Bakers courses.

Supporting Students, Supporting the Community

The Thanksgiving meals project gives students a great opportunity to learn how to cook food on a large scale, said Jack Birren, WCTC Culinary Management instructor, but it’s also a way for them to give back.

“This is one of my favorite times of the year. I love working for an organization that supports our classrooms and lets my students continue to make a difference in the community. I talk with my students that there is nothing more valuable than their time; they don’t need to always help by giving monetary donations. As culinary students, they have the knowledge to produce meals that can make someone’s holiday that much more enjoyable,” Birren said. “I’m excited to work with a new organization this year and hope that we can continue to make a bigger impact in our community.”

The holiday meals donation project began in 2011 with four family meals, and it has expanded over time. This year, the students are preparing enough turkey and sides for 30 family meals (four to five meals per family). Turkeys were generously donated by Stuart Schroeder, a member of the WCTC Foundation Advisory Council and former chair of the WCTC Foundation Board; pie donations were provided by the Hospitality, Baking and Culinary Club; and the remaining menu items for the turkey dinners were sponsored by generous donors to the WCTC Foundation.

>> Learn more about the College’s Culinary Management and Baking and Pastry Management programs.