“I’ve never cooked for 100 people, so this is a great experience for me,” says Sharon Jones, a culinary student at the St. Maarten Training Foundation (SMTF).
Sharon along with 70 classmates helped to provide a free 3-course Thanksgiving dinner yesterday evening at NIPA. The Freegan Food Foundation, who initiated the idea for the dinner, invited the guests from various neighborhoods on the island.
For nearly two years, Freegan Food Foundations Founders Dirk-Jan & Joost, along with volunteers, visited various communities to distribute their free vegan meals: “On a daily basis we see firsthand that certain families have trouble putting a nutritious meal on the table. We figured that likely they wouldn’t be able to have a nice thanksgiving experience either, therefore we wanted to provide that for them.” All meals are vegan and usually made with donated food from supermarkets and suppliers to combat food waste.
Upon hearing about the idea, SMTF, NIPA, 4C Foundation and the Sint Maarten Trust Fund partners jumped onboard to make it a reality. Together with donations from Carrefour, Kams Foodworld, CC1, Real foods and Caribbean Liquors amongst others, the ingredients for the 3-course menu were collected.
“NIPA is proud to have provided the space for the event. This is what our school is all about: collaboration and community involvement,” says Alexander Adoptie, Hospitality and Culinary Coordinator at NIPA.
The preparations started at 3pm, and at 6:30pm the guests arrived. The students served the meals and drinks, as music played in the background. “It’s really nice to be here, and I feel like everyone is having a good time,” expresses one of the guests who joined the dinner with three of her kids. “I never thought you can have thanksgiving dinner without meat,” says one of the teens laughing.
“People are in need. Some that are here tonight would not have had a meal otherwise. That is why this event and Freegan Food Foundation’s work is so important,” explains Josianne Cannegieter, a community leader and volunteer.
“The students were very excited when they heard they would be cooking for such a large group and for a good cause. They were a bit surprised to hear that we would be cooking a vegan dinner, so that has been a good learning experience for them as well,” explains Marco Brakkee, the culinary instructor at SMTF.
“I have a lot to be thankful for, so I hope we also made some people feel good tonight,” student Sharon concluded at the end of the night’s event.