By Niagara County Community College
Buffalo may be considered the “City of Good Neighbors,” but Niagara Falls certainly comes together as a community when times are tough. This community spirit and support has been a hallmark of hope during the global coronavirus pandemic, and the staff at the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute (NFCI) is doing their part to keep positivity flowing.
Amid what has been an uncertain time for all, institutions of higher education are scrambling to reschedule events, retool lesson plans, and develop new ways of creating effective virtual learning environments for students.
Once it became clear students would not return to the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute for in-person instruction in the near future, Dave Slowik, an essential operations employee for NFCI, knew something good could come of the situation. He reached out to his supervisor and suggested all perishable food in the culinary labs could be donated to Community Missions of the Niagara Frontier Inc., an organization that provides crisis and community services, mental health housing services, mental health recovery services, and youth services to area individuals in need. In 2019 Community Missions, provided 112,562 meals to those in need, a crucial service to the City of Niagara Falls, a municipality with over a quarter of residents in poverty.
After surveying the faculty on what perishable food items were available in the building, Slowik along with NFCI operations personnel, Dave Huntoon and Derrick Hilson, mobilized to collect the food.
Grant Babcock, director of operations at Community Missions, arrived in a pick-up truck on Friday, March 27, and NFCI employees filled it with fresh produce, eggs and dairy from the coolers in the building.
This is not the first time the staff and students at NFCI have come together to support the local community. In the fall, the NFCI Student Club prepared and donated 25 Thanksgiving turkeys to Community Missions, and in January they collected more than 500 personal items to create care packages to homeless individuals served by the organization.
“The ongoing relationship between NFCI and Community Missions is mutually beneficial, with students and staff seeing firsthand how their culinary skills and the donation of time and resources can help others,” said Josh Blumberg, interim vice president of academic affairs at NFCI.
NFCI is a division of Niagara County Community College. For more information visit www.nfculinary.org.