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“Food for Soul”: A Quiet Revolution with Boisterous Consequences

Afshin Keyvani, GFESS, October 26, 2023, VOL. 5 ISSUE 4

Service-learning is an educational perspective that connects community to school through experiential learning. These experiences help students to further elevate their academic standings. After three years of interruption, GFESS is renewing its partnership with St. Paul’s Anglican Church’s “Food for Soul”, which began in 2015.

As a teacher, I feel responsible for making every experiential learning opportunity impactful, leading to further potential learning. Every day in the GFESS kitchen, my students will learn knife skill techniques, measurement, the art of seasoning, cooking theory, and safe food handling as part of their educational requirements,

 I attempt to enhance their learning through building a meaningful partnership, where they can put their skills into a lasting experience. The objective of the partnership with “Food for Soul” is to provide an (extracurricular) opportunity for students to apply their skills by broadening their sense of community through problem solving, time management, communication, responsibility, and teamwork. These transferable skills will help students to be more employable in a very competitive job market. Students can also apply this experience towards their community hours and boost their resume.

Students are dropped off at the church at 9:00am and being picked up at 1:00 pm. Students are involved in setting up the hall, prepping vegetables, cooking potatoes, serving, and washing the dishes. Students serve people every 2nd Saturday of the month at 11:30.

Parents have shared that they are overwhelmingly thrilled about such a meaningful extracurricular experience.

Dierdre Breton and Noah McCracken, two of my past students and volunteers also joined our 2023 team on Saturday, October 14th. Past student, Selena Carlson, also came on Saturday to serenade the diners with her magical voice. It is extremely heartwarming to see that past students have retained their sense of community even years after graduating from GFESS. This extra-curricular experience teaches students what it means to be a good citizen.

One noteworthy difference between volunteerism and service-learning is the notion of reflection. As part of their reflection, students discuss food insecurity, and the rise in grocery prices, while discussing food costs and financial literacy in the context of food and beverage industry. I asked Niagara Riding MPP, Wayne Gates, to join my students on the inaugural day of “Food for Soul”. Mr. Gates spoke to our students about the high cost of living, high cost of groceries, volunteerism, and the importance of student’s activism.  Cheloe Comi (Gr.10) asked Mr. Gates, “There are so many people around the region who have resorted to living in tents by the side of the road, does the government have a plan to help these people?” Gabrielle Cudmore (Gr.10) also asked, Mr. Gates: “Food isn’t a want, it is a necessity. What is the government doing to be able to provide people with this necessary need?” Of course, Mr. Gates provided students extensive answers to their hard questions.

There is a much-needed alternative perspectives, internal revolution, increased passion, raised self-consciousness to be able to combat social issues communally. As an educator, I believe the “Food for Soul” project is a very effective methods for improving interpersonal skills, personal reflection, and increased self-assurance while promoting a sense of citizenship. These traits will help students to be more prepared for a future when they become the Town’s decisionmakers.

St. Paul’s Anglican Church has not only provided a safe and inclusive space for our students to give back to their community but also awakened the love of teaching in me, to help my students to be dynamic members of the community.

There is a need for people to help organizations such as: “Food for Soul”, “Meals on Wheels”, Ridgeway Lion’s Club, and COPE to name a few. With a punishing rise in food prices, there is an even greater demand for collective partnership in combating hunger in our community. Thanks to Lococo’s for donating fresh fruit and their commitment in helping our community to combat hunger.

The event on November 11th is being sponsored by Ms. Rebecca Parton, in the honour of her beloved father, community minded man, and lifelong volunteer firefighter, Mr. Philip Benner.

If you require more information about “Food for Soul”, please contact Mr. John Newton at St. Paul’s Anglican Church, 905-871-6704. Our next meal is on Saturday, November 11.

There are no upcoming events at this time.