Southern Institute of Technology (SIT) Cookery students have been given the opportunity to collaborate with the Salvation Army, to prepare nutritious, ‘heat and eat’ meals for their food bank, all thanks to the donation of some frozen meat.
The Salvation Army Food Bank was generously gifted meat recently (venison, pork, mutton and chicken), in large, frozen blocks. Brenda King, Community Ministries Coordinator for Salvation Army Invercargill, said it creates a challenge for them when donated food is unable to be given out in standard food parcels.
It was more meat than they could handle in the usual way (because of its size), so the team put their creative thinking caps on, and began exploring options on how to best utilise the donation for the good of the community. Charlie Paterson - Needs Assessor at Salvation Army Invercargill, suggested using the meat to prepare meals as a possible training/learning exercise for trainee chefs at SIT.
Mrs King said from there, “we put out feelers to see if it would work”, and contacted SIT to propose the idea. They hoped the outcome would be a win-win situation for everyone involved.
“It meets a need for us, but it might well meet a need for the students as well”.
Glenn Stridiron, Programme Manager for SIT’s School of Hospitality and Cookery, says they welcomed the opportunity to participate in the positive community collaboration.
He’s been in touch with suppliers to donate product for the meals and they’re also receiving sponsorship from SIT to help the project happen. Mr Stridiron expects they’ll be able to make approximately 400 meals, packaged and ready to go.
NZ Certificate in Cookery Level 4 and NZ Diploma in Cookery Level 5 students are giving up their Saturday and volunteering their time to don on their aprons and put their skills to good use in the collaboration. Around 20 students will be available to prepare the meals.
The students will have input into planning the different dishes, then will cook and package the meals on Saturday 26th September, with guidance from their tutors.
“We will work with the students, take onboard their ideas, and guide them in the preparation of the dishes, based on what product we have”.
Mr Stridiron said it’s a great opportunity for the students to develop their skills and extend themselves – by doing something that’s happening outside normal class activities.
“They’re happy to be a part of it”.
Mrs King said demand at the food bank is fluctuating at present with a mixture of quiet days and busy days. “It ebbs and flows”.
She said it was important to them to utilise the meat for the welfare of the community. “We hate waste, it’s been given to us in good faith, we have to be mindful of that”.
Making the meat donation into nutritionally-balanced meals that are easy to give out, and well- suited in terms of their client’s needs – easy to use and easy to cook in a microwave, is a great outcome, and it provided an opportunity to do something different, which occasionally happens, said Mrs King.