ORLANDO, Florida. – The countdown to the annual Salvation Army Thanksgiving Meal in Orlando has begun with culinary students, faculty and staff preparing more than 8,200 traditional meals for the less fortunate populations of Orange County.
This is the first time Chef Alex Erdmann, Dean of the School of Culinary Arts and Hospitality in Valencia, has led the team of students and chefs to make it a day to remember.
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“It’s just an amazing idea and a really cool project, something we really wanted to do,” he said. “It’s really good for us to involve students in community service.”
The day before the event, student volunteers, teaching staff and some of their families arrived at the downtown facility to pack approximately 8,400 sugar cookies that will be part of the Action to thanks.
And that’s just one of six labs cooking holiday meals. On Thanksgiving Day, News 6 saw students and teachers preparing food on three floors.
“Students here, being in this operation, immersed, is something difficult to teach because we cook such a large amount,” Erdmann said. “It’s something that is a great experience. You learn speed, you pick up skills, you cook in quantity, and you get really good at organizing something like that.
Salvation Army Area Commander Capt. Ken Chapman added that he was grateful for the help as the Salvation Army could not do it alone.
“This group of students and teachers and the chefs have a big heart for the community, and we are grateful to CJ and Dave Harris who provided the funding for all Thanksgiving, so Orlando could have a great Thanksgiving,” said said Captain Ken. Chapman, area commander of the Salvation Army. “This relationship with the Culinary Arts program at Valencia College is just amazing which makes for a great day out. We are only two blocks away so food preparation and convenience – everything is done at the heaven.
He said working with great partners, like the college’s culinary arts program, is key to letting people know they’re not alone on vacation.
“We invite them to sit at our table today and we hug them, we will pray with them, we will talk with them, we will let them talk and let them know that they are not alone, that someone ‘one cares and that’s what the holidays should be about,’ Chapman said.
Violetta Gir, one of the culinary arts students working to provide Thanksgiving meals, echoed that sentiment, grateful for the opportunity and learning experience the Orlando organization has given her. as well as his classmates.
“Seeing the Salvation Army go out of their way, as well as the volunteers, is saying a lot,” Gir said. “It shows that even though we are outcasts, to some extent we are not forgotten… Sometimes I feel like an outcast, today I feel like family and that means a lot. “
Boxes of rolls were served with 2,000 pounds of turkey breast, 120 gallons of gravy, 2,000 pounds of potatoes, 1,500 pounds of green beans, and 1,500 pounds of cranberry sauce.
“The first delivery will be at 9:30 a.m., at 10:30 a.m. is the second delivery, and then every 45 minutes we will produce around 2,000 meals,” Erdmann said.
Chapman said it was the only way to know Thanksgiving Day as someone who grew up in the Salvation Army.
“But here in Orlando it’s on steroids because at the end of the day it’s going to be 20,000 meals this week and so when I lay my head down today I can say, ‘Great people came together to make it happen so people in this community know that we care,” he said.
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