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Culinary Students To Take Skills From The Classroom Into The Fort Erie Community

by User Not Found | Sep 18, 2023

Food for the Soul program returns to local church

A hearty meal is nourishing to the body, and volunteering is equally important to the soul.

It is an important lesson Afshin Keyvani hopes to instil in his students at Greater Fort Erie Secondary School.

That is why the culinary teacher is reviving the Food for the Soul program out of St. Paul's Anglican Church in Fort Erie.

A handful of student volunteers will prepare and serve lunches at the church at 32 Idylewylde St. on Saturday, Oct. 14, from 11 a.m. until 1 p.m. The program will continue every second Saturday of the month during the school year.

When asked if they would volunteer for Food for the Soul, GFESS students Courtney Vander Meer, Harper James and Gabriel Cudmore could not be more excited about the opportunity to get involved in the community.

"I've always loved to serve food. It has been a passion of mine and to be able to cook and serve meals to people that need it is so satisfying," Vander Meer said.

While she has developed her cooking and baking skills in the high school's culinary program, Vander Meer said she has learned much more than how to cook a satisfying meal.

Sharing a table not only brings people closer together. It can also become a cultural exchange when people from unusual backgrounds connect and share a conversation.

"Mr. Keyvani has a way of using food and turning it into love and acceptance. He is always talking about the world and what is happening in it," Vander Meer said. "It's not just about cooking."

James said she was looking forward to the opportunity to use the skills she has learned in the classroom in real life.

"When Mr. K brought up the idea of helping out on a Saturday, I said yes. I like the idea of helping others," she said.

The last time the Food for the Soul luncheon program was offered at St. Paul's Church was before the pandemic.

Previously, a group of community churches, which included St. Paul's, rotated luncheon offerings weekly to help feed the needs of the community.

Currently, Strong Fort Erie Neighbourhoods Community volunteers offer takeout lunches on Wednesdays at St. Michael's Church at the hall on Central Avenue.

Keyvani said he wanted to re-establish the partnership with St. Paul's so students who wish to volunteer have the chance.

"I want my students to learn how to become citizens, and that's why I am doing this," he said.

Keyvani said many people in Niagara are struggling, and he has seen it first-hand with people without a place to go, being homeless in the downtown core, by the library, and other spots in the city.

"I see it. I live in Niagara Falls. Homelessness is so bad that I see it across the town," he said.

For more information about Food for the Soul, contact St. Paul's Anglican Church at 905-871-6704.


By Sarah Ferguson Fort Erie Post