Community and aspiring chefs benefit from annual Boyle Street Community Services event
About 20 student volunteers from NAIT’s Culinary Arts and Professional Meat Cutting and Merchandising programs have spent a good part of the week in campus kitchens peeling vegetables, making stuffing and prepping turkeys for a Thanksgiving feast for 1,600.
The students, members of Club Culinaire, will feed Edmonton’s less fortunate at Boyle Street Community Services annual Thanksgiving dinner. “It benefits the students and it benefits the community,” explains Jade Sparkes, a Culinary Arts student and president of the student-run club, which has prepared the dinner for the past 32 years.
“It benefits the students and it benefits the community.”
She and her classmates will have devoted about 14 hours each this week to staging the meal, which will be transported to the inner-city agency on Sunday.
Sparkes was among the volunteers last year, her first in the Culinary Arts program. Not only did she help prepare and cook the dinner, she went to Boyle Street on Thanksgiving to serve it as well. “I just found it extremely rewarding,” she says. “I got to see it right from cutting the carrots to serving the people. It was a really wonderful experience being able to feed people.”
She said she was touched by the sense of community at last year’s dinner, with some clients getting takeout meals to bring to elderly or infirm neighbours.
Sparkes and her partner don’t have family in Edmonton, so they plan to make serving Thanksgiving dinner at Boyle Street an annual tradition. “Instead of feeling sorry for myself at Thanksgiving, I decided to do something of value for the community, and that’s made all the difference,” she says.
Here’s a look at what’s involved in putting the meal together.