Students prepared, served and and shared a meal with community members during a Thanksgiving feast Nov. 18 at Patriot High School in District 49. Local senior citizens and Falcon Fire Department members were invited to the ninth annual feast, many of whom have routinely attended the event. “It’s such a joy,” said Catherine Reed, a returning patron.
This was eleventh-grader Josiah Santiago’s first time assisting with the meal. “I’m excited about it,” he said. “It’s really nice to be able to do something like this in the community.”
Traditional Thanksgiving cuisine was prepared by PHS students enrolled in the school’s new culinary program. “It gives [students] a lot of confidence that they can accomplish things,” said Eric Lustig, culinary arts and hospitality teacher. He explained that students were able to create the event “from the ground up.”
Students escorted attendees into the gym, where tables had been set up. Conversations filled the gym as attendees were served in a buffet-style line by students. Students who were not serving sat at tables with groups of senior citizens and engaged in conversation.
James “Papa” Clark was a first-time attendee. “It’s fantastic,” he said. “It makes you just feel so good.” Clark was able to share the meal with his grandson. “I appreciate the invite,” he said.
Nancy Bishop attends the luncheon every year. “The effort they put into it is just fantastic,” she said. Phil Nuffer explained his joy in meeting young people outside of his family members. “We really appreciate the people here,” he said.
Lustig explained the importance of students not only serving the meal, but preparing it. He wants them to experience full service hospitality, which includes meal preparation, service of guests, and clean-up. He said the students were excited the entire week for the event.