For years, the BOCES Culinary Arts program in Saratoga Springs has helped high school students jumpstart a potential career, but as YNN's Matt Hunter reports, this year, the students are also doing their part to help the community's less fortunate.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – "It's amazing. I love being here every single day," said Nicole Baccoli, a junior from Saratoga who takes culinary classes at the F. Donald Myers Education Center.
"This is what I want to do for the rest of my life,” said classmate Jenelle Losew, a junior from South Glens Falls. “I love it."
Barely old enough to drive themselves to school, many of the 50 students in the BOCES Culinary Arts Program feel right at home in the kitchen, a sense of comfort that was rocked earlier this year when the class received an all-too-real lesson about the local homeless population.
"Going to high school, you kind of live in a bubble it seems like,” Losew said. “To have somebody come in and tell you that people in your community are not doing as well as everyone else, it was eye opening."
That dose of reality came from Bonnie Potter, the house manger at Shelters of Saratoga. It marked the beginning of a partnership that's benefitted both the home and students.
"They're going to make enough food today to go right through the weekend, right through Monday, to feed 32 people on a regular basis," said Potter, who visited the class Thursday morning.
"It helps us because we get to learn portion sizes, new types of food, [how to] work with what we have," said NaTara Mount, a senior in the class from Saratoga Springs.
Three days a week, the class provides the shelter with a full serving of breakfast and dinner. They're now hoping to offer even more help through a grant contest sponsored State Farm's Neighborhood Assist program.
"Everything's been a struggle with finances, so any time you can get some help, it's good for them," said chef Maureen Clancy, the culinary arts program instructor.
Down from 3,000 applicants, the class is one of 200 finalists in the hunt for forty $25,000 grants. By simply urging their friends and family to vote for their cause on Facebook, the students hope they'll be able to turn their lessons in the classroom into real life comfort for some people in need.
"It's a great feeling to know that you can help somebody put a meal on the table every single day like I have at my own house," Baccoli said.
"It helps you sleep at night to know that they're getting the food they deserve," Losew said.
The contest runs until April 22nd. All voting is done through State Farm’s Neighborhood Assist Facebook page. To vote for the BOCES students, select “New York” on the map and then choose “Culinary Kids Caring.” You can vote up to 10 times per day.