Okanagan College Foundation

OC Serves Up

Okanagan College Culinary and Pastry Arts students are running an innovative program designed to hone their skills while providing nutritious meals for fellow students who are struggling financially.

Students can apply to request a meal online by using the button below.

The Impact of COVID-19 on our students

Okanagan College’s 20,000 students typically juggle part-time work alongside their studies to pay tuition fees, rent and bills, and buy basic necessities like food. Physical distancing measures implemented by COVID-19 have led to many local employers reducing their workforces and created challenges for our whole community. The ripple effect for students has been significant, as part-time and casual work has dried-up, we are seeing financial uncertainty and anxiety increase. Many of our international students find themselves far away from home and may not qualify for any federal or provincial relief.

In addition, the Okanagan College Student Union Food Pantry, which typlically helps 1,100 students across the academic year, was also forced to restrict activities in response to physical distancing measures and the College’s transition to online classes. The pantry is currently distributing weekly grocery cards in emergency situations.

Since the start of the pandemic, we have seen a significant increase in requests for emergency funding from our students. In April 2020, we provided 100 emergency bursaries to students experiencing significant financial hardship. This compared to an average of 10 per month in previous months.

Examples of a financial emergency include inability to pay rent, bills or transportation costs, or to buy basic essentials such as food and medication.

Food insecurity is a very real issue for many of these students.

Federal Government emergency relief is available to support students who are unable to work over the summer, however when students return in the fall, either in person or online, we anticipate ongoing need.

In parallel, social distancing measures have impacted the education of our culinary students. With the closure of both Infusions Restaurant and the cafeteria at the Kelowna Campus, the students are unable to prepare and serve the dishes which form an integral component of their curriculum. This will impact completion and qualification.

Faculty and students combined these two distinct needs to launch OCServesUp.

Culinary Arts student holding a platter with a colourful array of vegetables.

I am writing to express how grateful I am to have received this funding. Now I am not worried anymore as our rent is paid, and I am able to feed my son delicious meals. And I can study on my math a lot better not having to worry about bills. Thank you so much."

– Rita, OC student

We need your help!

A nutritious, healthy diet is well understood to be an integral part of good health and critical to our ability to study and focus. For many students food scarcity is now a real and ongoing problem.

This service will ensure a nutritious meal is available to those who need it most.

We need community support to make this happen!

The costs associated with instruction from our Culinary and Pastry Arts faculty and chefs, and of course, access to the College’s kitchens and equipment, will be covered by Okanagan College. The students’ time is part of their scheduled classes and learning. The Culinary and Pastry Arts program is also contributing to the costs of the ingredients.

However, because we will not charge students in need for these much needed nutritious meals (as we would with our usual restaurant customers), we need to raise $25,000 for the initial 6 month pilot ($50,000 for the annual program).

Ways to get involved:

Sponsor the program – we have a range of sponsorship levels and benefits available for the 6 month pilot, with options to extend:

OCServesUp sponsorship scale


  • Many amazing community organizations have adapted their community giving to support food security and help alleviate poverty exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. We would be pleased to apply for grants or corporate donation if our program fits with your goals.
  • We would also love to work with individual donors and philanthropists in our community keen to support both culinary education and students in need.

In-kind product donations:

  • Can you help us with reusable containers, produce and healthy, local ingredients?
  • Perhaps you could donate unsold or shorter dated produce that would otherwise go to waste?
  • Could suppliers discount or provide produce and ingredients at cost?

We’d love to hear from you!

To learn more about OC’s Culinary and Pastry Arts Program - contact Cari Jahns cjahns@okanagan.bc.ca
To discuss ways to support this program - contact Helen Jackman hjackman@okanagan.bc.ca

Download OC Serves Up pdf

Thank you to our sponsors

OC Serves Up is proudly presented by Valley First, a division of First West Credit Union, and the TELUS Friendly Future Foundation , as well as supported by our partners OCSU, Sysco and GFS.