VIU Culinary Arts Program Donates Surplus Food to Salvation Army

VIU Culinary Arts program donates surplus food to Salvation Army

VIU Culinary Arts students pack baked goods into reusable containers for donation to Nanaimo Salvation Army meal centre.

December 10, 2020 - 9:15am

Extra food prepared by students as part of their program is finding its way to the stomachs of people in need through charitable organization in Nanaimo.

Vancouver Island University’s (VIU’s) Culinary Arts program is donating the equivalent of about 200 meals every week to the Nanaimo Salvation Army New Hope Centre on Nicol Street. 

VIU’s hybrid model of education delivery has drastically reduced the student, employee and faculty population at all of its campuses this fall. With fewer people on-site, both of the cafeterias at the Nanaimo campus have temporarily halted operations and no longer offer food sales to the public, but the cooking hasn’t stopped.  

“Just like a carpenter needs wood to work with, the culinary students need food to work with in our internationally recognized chef training programs,” says Jason Lloyd, Chair of VIU’s Culinary Arts Program

Almost three-quarters of the intensive, hands-on, face-to-face classroom instruction is still taking place in the three commercial kitchens on campus. Students are also cooking for the fine-dining restaurant, the Discovery Room, which is still open with limited seating capacity, so there is an abundance of food being produced on a daily basis. 

“To properly train students in the fundamentals of food preparation in a modern industrial kitchen setting, we still need to bring in food, regardless of where it’s going to go afterwards,” says Lloyd. “But we had zero interest in having any of it go to waste so we have made arrangements for the excess food to go to the local Salvation Army meal centre.”

Early in his career, while training and working at five-star hotels, Lloyd witnessed tremendous amounts of food from the commercial kitchens go into the garbage and vowed when he became a manager, he would find avenues to reduce waste.

“Food waste is huge in the world right now,” he says. “When I worked in Vancouver, we identified opportunities to donate to the local shelters and the churches and they were very happy to receive that food to distribute to the people in need.” 

The New Hope Centre serves a community lunch and dinner daily, as well as free holiday meals, and provides bread and other bakery products when available to meet the immediate and short-term needs of people in distress. 

Philippe Lavoie, Food Program Manager with the Salvation Army Nanaimo, says they are currently providing approximately 10,000 meals per month and he is especially grateful for the donation.  

“By March of this year the community need was up by 30% over 2019,” says Lavoie. “That need has more than doubled since the onset of COVID-19.” 

Since the beginning of the fall term in September, the VIU Culinary Arts department has been packaging the food in reusable containers that are picked up two times per week to supplement what is being served at the Salvation Army meal centre.   

“It really is a beautiful thing to see,” says Lavoie. “The culinary students are not only learning about food preparation, but also about helping vulnerable people in their community. The food is picked up at 2 pm and by 3:30 pm someone is eating it, and when you are living on the street and it’s cold and you’re hungry and someone provides you with a high-quality meal that looks and tastes good it tells those people we care about them, and we do,” says Lavoie.  

The food being produced at the VIU commercial training kitchens varies weekly, including hot meals, à la carteselections, pastas, stir fry’s, stews, grilled dishes, salads, vegetable dishes, artisan breads and even desserts. 

“I am proud to serve the food we receive from VIU,” adds Lavoie. “The quality and consistency of the food students are preparing and providing to the Salvation Army meal centre adds flavour and spice and is a testament to the teaching and learning happening at VIU.”



Annette Lucas, Communications Officer, Vancouver Island UniversityC: 250.618.7296 | E:


Tags: Community Engagement | Culinary Arts | Student Stories | Teaching and Learning

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