OC Culinary Arts program Serves Up meals for students in need

By College Relations | July 9, 2020

OC Serves Up logo alternate
RBC, OCSU and Sysco fire up support for free student meal program

It’s an example of students helping students that is sure to warm hearts and bellies.

With the support of RBC Royal Bank of Canada, the Okanagan College Students’ Union (OCSU) and Sysco, Okanagan College’s Culinary and Pastry Arts students are launching an innovative new program designed to hone their skills while providing nutritious meals for fellow students who are struggling financially.

When the pandemic hit B.C. earlier this spring, OC’s training kitchens went dark. Students and instructors donated food to the Kelowna Food Bank as COVID-19 conditions rendered hands-on practical culinary training impossible for the time being.

Fast-forward a few months, following the guidance of the Provincial Health Officer and Interior Health, the College has adapted and found safe ways to offer physically-distanced training in its kitchens once again.

The only problem? With many College employees and students working and learning remotely, the College’s primary audiences for its culinary training kitchen, the driving force being Infusions Restaurant on campus, is absent for the time being.

Not wanting to see students’ efforts go to waste, and recognizing that many students are struggling financially during the pandemic, OC’s Culinary and Pastry Arts program came up with the concept for OC Serves Up. 

The project will see students prepare 50 nutritious meals per day, which will be provided to OC students free of charge.
RBC Royal Bank of Canada, which already supports students through its RBC On Campus financial literacy hub in the Centre for Learning in Kelowna, has stepped up with $10,000 to support the pilot project, which officially fired up on Wednesday, July 8 when students stepped back into the kitchens. 

“RBC is proud to support the OC Serves Up project as it aligns so well with our goal to support students and help the College enhance their student experience and engagement,” said Courtney Hesse, Regional Vice President Okanagan & Kootenays for RBC Royal Bank.

The Okanagan College Student’s Union, which operates an on-campus Pantry to help students access to food and hygiene products, has also come forward with $1,000 to kickstart the project. 

"The OCSU is proud to participate in OC Serves UP as it directly relates to the needs of our students today. We see this as an advancement to our existing Pantry Food Bank program, which has been utilized by thousands of students since launching in 2018. We are grateful to OC and the Culinary and Pastry Arts program for establishing this initiative and we are excited to continue supporting OC students,” said Brianne Berchowitz, Executive Director for the OCSU. 
In addition, Sysco is also supporting the program with in-kind produce and ingredients.

Culinary, Pastry, Trades and community partners stand in kitchen celebrating launch of OC Serves Up initiative

Meals will be available daily to students in both online and in-person classes, and accessed via a voucher system managed by the OCSU Student Pantry. 

Any excess meals will be provided to community organizations in need such as homeless shelters and community food programs.

“This project really speaks to the tight-knit community of Okanagan College,” says Helen Jackman, Executive Director of the Okanagan College Foundation. “From the get-go, our Culinary Arts and Pastry Arts students, instructors and administrators knew they wanted to do something that would help people, and what better way to do so than to serve up healthy meals at a time when there is real need in our community. We’re so grateful to RBC, the OCSU and Sysco for stepping up to support the pilot.”

Adds Jackman: “This support will help us establish the service and figure out the best approach, and in the longer term we are looking for additional sponsors to join us and help us build a sustainable program.”

“We are so proud of our Culinary and Pastry Arts programs for envisioning this project and turning it into a reality,” says Steve Moores, Dean of Trades and Apprenticeship at Okanagan College. “This is a fantastic example of innovation and adaptation, which allowed our students to get the practical training they need in the kitchen, while helping their own. It’s a wonderful initiative, and we’re hopeful that students will hear about it and seize the opportunity to get some nourishing meals.” 

Tags: Culinary Arts, Pastry Arts, Food, Trades, OC Foundation, Okanagan College Students Union



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