Central students take food, service to TIMES Center

Central students take food, service to TIMES Center

CHAMPAIGN — Central High School students who made soup for a community event had the chance Friday to share it with more community members.

Students in the Central's advanced foods class prepared soup, cornbread and cookies for the first Supper with the Superintendent, which was March 1. The event allowed community members to dine with new Superintendent Judy Wiegand. (The next Supper with the Superintendent is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. May 3 at Booker T. Washington STEM Academy, 606 E. Grove St., C.)

The class froze the leftovers, and one student suggested donating it to the TIMES Center in Champaign, said Kate Mindrum, nutrition and culinary arts teacher.

Not only did they donate soup, but several students in the class also volunteered Friday to help serve it and the rest of the meal at the center.

Junior Brandon Markham said he decided to serve at the TIMES Center to help others, and to set an example for other Central students.

"I just like helping people, and I like to cook," Markham said.

Mindrum said it was a good opportunity for her students to experience an industrial kitchen, because they don't have one in their classroom at Central.

TIMES Center cook Jenn Omer-Knierim, who also coordinates volunteers in the kitchen, instructed the students on donning hairnets, washing their hands and managing the flow of adding fruit, lasagna, tostados, soup and condiments to trays.

Lunch is the lighter meal of the day the center serves, she said, and she invited the students to come back with their parents to volunteer over a dinner hour.

And their soup earned praise from those enjoying it for lunch.

"It's actually pretty good," David Lee Quinlan said. "It's not too salty. ... It's almost like a broth. It's got a good beefy flavor."

Omer-Knierim said Champaign schools have been donating leftover food since the beginning of the school year. It also donates to the Daily Bread Soup Kitchen and SAFE House in Urbana, she said.

She goes to pick up food that would otherwise be thrown away at eight or nine schools, she said.

The schools donate a variety of food, from things like lettuce, fruit and bread, as well as entrees that need to be rewarmed.

"It's a blessing," Omer-Knierim said.