Students from The Kendall College School of Culinary Arts Serve Veterans’ Families at Hines Fisher House
Students Gain Practical Experience While Experiencing the Value of Community Service
CHICAGO, April 4, 2011 –The Kendall College School of Culinary Arts is partnering with Hines Fisher House in Hines, Ill., to provide student-prepared food for families of Veterans who are receiving treatment on campus at the Hines Veterans Hospital. Twice each quarter, students from the School of Culinary Arts visit the Fisher House to prepare and package meals that will feed the families for a week, helping to reduce their burden and allow them to focus on their loved ones.
The real-world learning experience really hit home for Kendall student Brandon Bilbo, who is a Marine Corps veteran and had many friends utilize the Fisher House in Hawaii when he was stationed there. Bilbo said being part of the Kendall-Fisher House project was a coincidence, but that it has been rewarding to give back to other Veterans.
“I talked to a lot of the the Veterans and their family members who were there and they were really happy and surprised with the quality of the food we put out and to learn that I was a Veteran” Bilbo said. “I exchanged a lot of stories with some of the older Veterans who were in Iraq and Afghanistan, talked about the medical issues they’re going through and about their experience with Fisher House. They seemed really excited to be able to talk to a younger Veteran like myself and still relate.”
Kendall College colleagues worked with an extended network of leaders active in positive community action to establish the Kendall-Fisher House relationship. Dan Cotter, member of the Kendall College School of Business Senior Advisory Board, Renee Zonka, dean of Kendall’s School of Culinary Arts, and Kevin Hull, an attorney focused on advocating for injured service members and their families, combined their efforts to bring the project to life. Hull continues to be an active participant in the project, securing funds for groceries from donors, including the Union League Club of Chicago where he serves as chair of the military affairs committee, and American Legion Post 758, located at the Union League Club.
Meals created by Kendall students have included herbed pork chops, chipotle-braised pork, whole-roasted chicken, beef stew, fresh vegetable dishes and bread pudding for dessert. “The program is challenging for students who must bring their skills to bear on a real-world situation,” said Renee Zonka, dean of Kendall’s School of Culinary Arts and an instructor in the catering/personal chef course. “Catering requires that culinarians learn to think on their feet and figure out what they can make with the food, equipment, time and space they have. Working with the Fisher House’s staff provides valuable experience for the students and much appreciated assistance to the families staying there.”
Holly Wright, manager at the Hines Fisher House, is delighted with the project. “We are so grateful to have this community of support,” she said. “The enthusiasm of students brings a ray of light and excitement to our veteran families as well as delicious, healthy and nourishing meals.”
Through the program, a rotating group of roughly 20 students must learn to work creatively with the foods that are available, as well as practice vital food safety skills because they must cook, cool, package and label each of the foods for later consumption.
About The Kendall College School of Culinary Arts
Kendall College, founded in 1934, is located in Chicago, Illinois. Kendall offers undergraduate degrees in business, culinary arts, early childhood education and hospitality management to a diverse and passionate community of more than 2500 students. The curriculum combines strong academics with practical experience and international educational opportunities that help give students in business, hospitality and culinary arts programs the skills and expertise to be leaders in their professions. The School of Culinary Arts is one of the leading culinary training programs in the United States. The school offers associate and bachelor’s degrees and certificates in the culinary arts as well as an associate degree and certificate in baking and pastry. The American Culinary Federation Education Foundation Accrediting Commission has accredited the Culinary Arts associate program since 1988 and the Baking and Pastry associate program since 2008. Kendall College, a member of the Laureate International Universities network, is accredited by the Higher Learning Commission and is a member of the North Central Association of Colleges and Schools (NCA), www.ncahlc.org.
About Fisher House
A Fisher House™ is "a home away from home" for families of patients receiving medical care at major military and Veterans Administration (VA) medical centers. There are 53 Fisher Houses located on 18 military installations and 15 VA medical centers, including the Hines Fisher House, located next door to the Edward Hines, Jr. VA Hospital in Maywood. Typically, the houses are 5,000 to 16,000 square foot homes donated by the Fisher family and Fisher House Foundation. Each house is designed to provide eight to 21 suites. All are professionally furnished and decorated in the tone and style of the local region. The houses can accommodate 16 to 42 family members. They feature a common kitchen, laundry facilities, spacious dining room and an inviting living room with library, and toys for children. Newest houses are 100 percent handicap accessible and include elevators. A Fisher House is a temporary residence and is not a treatment facility, hospice or counseling center. The program began in 1990, and has offered more than three million days of lodging to more than 120,000 families.