Guelph Catholic hospitality college students cooking for a trigger with Royal Metropolis Mission

Our Lady of Lourdes students prepare food for Royal City Mission on June 15, 2022.

The sounds of pots, pans and even some laughter filled the kitchen classroom where high school students were hard at work preparing food, an atmosphere that often makes up the hospitality class at Our Lady of Lourdes Catholic High School in Guelph.

But on Wednesday, June 15, about a dozen Grade 11 students were cooking with selfless purpose and for more than just grades, putting together a meal that will end up in the bellies of those less fortunate that night at Royal City Mission downtown.

RCM, a church located at 50 Quebec St., spends much of its time and resources focused on the needs of marginalized people living below the poverty line.

The students of Mrs. Andrea Dickie’s Hospitality, Food and Culture course knew they are participating in something bigger than just their school work.

“This won’t make a big difference but it starts a big difference,” student Linzie Dapula told the Guelph Mercury Tribune outside the bustling classroom.

Addressing hunger one person at a time, “it means a lot,” she said.

Standing next to Linzie in a matching apron, classmate Alyson Eyers echoed her sentiment.

“It’s a really good thing to do, and a lot of people need it,” Alyson said.

The food Linzie, Alyson and their peers prepared will be enjoyed by those who go to RCM that evening as part of its free lunch and dinner program that runs during the week.

For that evening, the students were bringing together a meal of turkey tzatziki, asparagus soup, buns and a strawberry cobbler dessert. Drinks were donated by another class.

Our Lady of Lourdes hospitality students first worked in person putting together a meal for RCM in December. It kicked off a rotation with each of Guelph’s Catholic high schools taking a turn to prepare food for the dinners on a monthly basis.

Mark Berardine, a key organizer behind the initiative, told the Mercury Tribune that it’s not only the students who participate in RCM’s dinners.

Teachers from across the Wellington Catholic District School Board prepare food once a month as well as serve it.

“I send out an email and within two days over 30 teachers respond,” Berardine said. “It’s a real team effort.”

The school board’s participation in Royal City Mission is a way for the students and faculty to serve their community and espouses the values of Catholic education, Berardine said.

Berardine recalled an earlier moment when one of the hospitality classes were done preparing a meal for RCM and one student turned to a friend and said, in awe, “we’re feeding 100 people today.”

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