SFX assistant principal Julia Lederwasch says the school originally partnered with the diocesan van more than 10 years ago when it started its operations and has continued providing teams of staff and students to man what is now the DARA van on Saturdays in Islington.
The teams also assist in the preparation of the food, and a recent cook-up prepared 425 chicken tikka masala meals for the DARA van. Two Year 12 classes comprising 20 students and ably led by Hospitality staff members Sam Middleton, Kerrie Burnes and Krissy Owen cooked up a storm.
“Our hospitality kids were cooking for DARA last year,” said Ms Lederwasch. “We’ve also been involved with the Refugee Hub. Originally just staff, then students joined every Tuesday evening at Mayfield for English.
“The students really connect with active social justice initiatives. They don’t hesitate to volunteer. I saw them in action and was very impressed. Cutting up 51kg of chicken breast is no mean feat.”
The hospitality staff at SFX deserve recognition. They not only give their time, but see it as an opportunity to broaden the outlook of the students and provide them with valuable work experience in a commercial sense.
“Cooking for a large number of people requires skills such as teamwork, time management, preparation and maintaining consistency,” said Ms Lederwasch. “The icing I guess is knowing they are supporting a worthwhile and appreciated service. It’s a humbling experience and gives them ‘food’ for reflection on their own lives.”
Hospitality staff members Ms Middleton, Ms Burnes and Ms Owen acknowledge that it is a wonderful opportunity “to really be of service – to be able to contribute to society, to those less fortunate”.
“It makes you reflect and be grateful for what we have,” they said. “This truly is Christian service and not only shows the students service in action, but gives them the opportunity to participate.
“The cook-up enabled students to get first-hand experience of the scale of a large operation because it reflected a commercial environment in relation to the quantity of ingredients and time-management restrictions. The need to work cohesively in a team was invaluable to reinforce the reality of the hospitality industry.”
Students Lucy, Emily and Charlotte said it was a satisfying experience to prepare freshly cooked meals from which others will benefit. Georgia, Tara and Grace said it made them feel selfless to help people less fortunate in our community. Ben, India and Jack said to be able to use the skills they developed in Hospitality and cook meals in such large quantities for others in our local area was a challenge and a privilege.