LCVI supports community meal program

Limestone Learning Foundation
LCVI supports community meal program
Posted on 11/16/2020
Image of LCVI Cook's Internship student preparing food for Lionhearts meals

An innovative new partnership between culinary students at Loyalist Collegiate & Vocational Institute (LCVI) and Lionhearts is helping to provide between 2,500 and 5,000 hot meals weekly to those in need.

Typically, Grade 9 and 10 Hospitality students and those enrolled in the Specialist High Skills Major Cook’s Internship Focus Program plan, prepare and serve meals to the school community, the onsite day care, and the broader community through its popular Lancer Café and catering opportunities. Due to COVID-19 restrictions in schools, Technology Department Head Ian Montgomery needed a Plan B.

“We wanted to find a project that would keep the energetic vibe of our kitchen and still provide a unique experience for students,” says Mr. Montgomery, who has been teaching at LCVI for 11 years. “We reached out to Lionhearts who welcomed us with open arms.”

By the third week of school, the school’s industrial-grade kitchen was up and running full speed. Lionhearts creates its menu based on the food donations it receives and LCVI determines which portion of the menu it can support. Right now, students are primarily helping with large quantity food processing, mass production, and how to ensure food safety when preparing food on a large scale to support Lionhearts’ hot meal program. So far, students have helped prepare 500 pounds of potatoes, 80 pounds of pasta and rice, and 120 pounds of chicken along 25 pounds of vegetables for up to 10 different dishes each week. For Thanksgiving weekend, students prepared 200 pounds of pork loin and 200 pounds of turkey.

At first, Grade 12 SHSM Cook’s Internship Program student Emily Wilson says the process was a bit overwhelming, but she and other students quickly hit their stride. “When I first started in the program it was kind of scary because I was working with really good chefs with lots of experience, but once I got comfortable in the kitchen, it got really easy,” says Emily. “I would definitely recommend the program, not only if you want to pursue the dream of being a chef or baker, but to get the experience and techniques down.”

Lionhearts, which has provided more than 146,000 meals since the spring, says the partnership has helped reduce the burden on its volunteer chefs and allowed the team to serve more meals.

“The students and their instructors at LCVI have become an indispensable part of our kitchen brigade,” says Will Arnaud, Lionhearts’ Executive Chef and owner of Otter Creek Catering & Food Truck. “We would not have been able to meet the increased demand for meals in October without their help. One of the big jobs they did for us was to roast and prepare large portions of our Thanksgiving Dinner. It was an incredible joy to see such a beautiful meal created for our program guests.”

Grade 12 student Michelle Brightman says the chance to be part of the Lionhearts team is rewarding. “Having the opportunity to help Lionhearts make food to help people in need make us feel good to know that we are helping our community.”

Emily agrees. “Working with Lionhearts has been an amazing experience. What we’re doing, helping Lionhearts feed so many people who can’t necessarily get the food they need, what we’re doing is making our community better.”

The partnership is supported by LCVI hospitality teachers Montgomery and Andrew Kirby and teacher candidate Grace Knight as well as Lionhearts chefs Emma Cox and James Marcil.

This partnership has added a new component to the LCVI program offering students an invaluable experiential learning opportunity, says Mr. Montgomery. While food prep is the current focus, it is expected that the school’s support of Lionhearts will evolve over time. “We have been processing and safely cooking and storing food in our kitchen contributing to more than 1,600 meals per week. The Lionhearts partnership has been an amazing experience for our culinary students. We hope to continue to support Lionhearts and develop our hospitality program through community projects like this in the future.”

Lionhearts is a registered charity that has been working to support Kingstonians since 2014 mainly through food security programs. Learn more on its website.

Image of some of the food LCVI students have helped prepare to support Lionhearts community meal program. 

The Limestone District School Board is situated on traditional territories of the Anishinaabe & Haudenosaunee.