Culinary Arts Students Help Those in Need This Thanksgiving

Culinary student preps turkey for River Rood Pantry

For the 17th straight year, the Madison College Culinary Arts students and faculty will be cooking turkeys for the local River Food Pantry’s Thanksgiving dinner. 

In total, more than 125 turkeys, 1200 pounds of potatoes and 80 gallons of gravy will be cooked and prepared for the pantry. The preparation and cooking is largely taken on by first-year students, giving them experience in the kitchen, but also the community. 

“It’s fun to see our first-year students realizing they can make a difference in the community through their passion for cooking,” says chef and instructor John Johnson. “This project is always a large undertaking and takes all our students and faculty to pull off each year; but we know it’s connected to something bigger than just our program. This is about being a community partner and ensuring as many people as possible get to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner with their families.”

The process is quite extensive and includes preparation, roasting, carving, and breaking everything down. During the roasting process, up to 40 turkeys will be cooking in the kitchen’s 20 industrial ovens. In addition, everything must be packaged and go through a freezing process to ensure the meals arrive to the River Pantry ready for cooking. Community members will pick up their Thanksgiving meals directly from River Pantry later this month.

Student Michael Breunig shared with Channel 3000 that he feels like he's providing a service beyond just food through the work his fellow students and staff.

"Making people's days is what drives this industry. It's the service industry," he said. "To be able to put out a service like this is just astounding."

For student Lane Lindquist, he told NBC15 that helping make sure families have something to eat during the holidays is really special.

“To be doing something that we all take for granted, sometimes being able to go home and have thanksgiving with our family, not everybody gets to do that,” Lindquist said. “So, if we can take a little time out of our week to help feed all those people that aren’t as fortunate, that makes me happy.”

Learn more about Madison College's award-winning Culinary Arts program.