Saint Paul College Culinary Department has partnered with Minnesota Central Kitchen, an initiative of Second Harvest Heartland, to create more than 25,000 meals since the COVID pandemic began reducing restaurant capacities in March 2020. Culinary students use food secured by a local food bank to prepare family-sized meals for distribution throughout the Twin Cities regional community. The Culinary program is pleased to add culinary activism teaching principles to its curriculum to help students learn both the art of preparing excellent meals and the societal impact one can achieve through food during challenging times like the COVID pandemic.

Students making meals in culinary lab
Culinary student preparing meals

Once our kitchen site prepares its meals, they are distributed to the community through a network of a dozen partner organizations to more than 50 meal distribution sites. With one in nine adults facing food insecurities and this number increasing when many are unable or unwilling to go to a grocery store for supplies, this partnership truly serves a significant, growing community need. The program has delivered over 1.4 million meals to seniors, school districts, and other vulnerable children and adults throughout the Twin Cities regional area.

Jason Ross, Culinary Instructor, notes that this project teaches culinary students many new vital areas of food preparation and distribution. It has inspired students to continue creating incredible meals while recognizing food’s life-changing impacts on families during challenging times within their community.

For example, this is what two culinary students had to say about this program:

Some of the teaching principles incorporated into our culinary curriculum through this large-scale project include:

  • Planning for the process of food distribution while maintaining safe and healthy conditions for both the workers and food products;
  • Bringing vision and reality together by creatively utilizing donated products within specific boundaries and with respect for different food cultures;
  • Managing time constraints and labor resources on a large-scale basis;
  • How to navigate nonprofit funding and government contracting to bring projects like this together for community benefit; and
  • Inspiring community support through social media to fund these projects.

Students become invaluable change agents within the food industry as they are inspired to use the power of food and their kitchens to uplift, heal, and rebuild communities in the worst and best of times. Saint Paul College values our partnership with Minnesota Central Kitchen and below is a statement from this partner on their gratitude for our culinary department on this life-changing project.

For more information on how the Minnesota Central Kitchen project serves the Twin Cities regional area, visit Minnesota Central Kitchen | Second Harvest Heartland (