By Deandra Du
Editor in Chief
On Dec. 1, Gabrielino High School’s Life Skills class visited the Los Angeles Kitchen, a non-profit organization that uses uneaten food to produce meals for the homeless and disabled. The purpose of the trip was for students to both volunteer and learn about careers in the culinary arts.
Life Skills, part of the Special Education department, is taught by Matthew Van Gelder,and combines functional literacy with consumer math. It provides students with the opportunity to participate in community-based services that help them better understand in-class instruction.
The group left campus at 9 a.m. for the trip to the Kitchen. After putting on hairnets and gloves, students began the process of making pesto by first cleaning kale, spinach, and basil. Positioned in an assembly-line fashion, one person would remove the stems of the leaves, handing them over to another person who would cut the vegetables.
The majority consensus seemed to be that bagging the leaves through an air-sucking machine called the Cryovac was the highlight of the trip. For some, it was a humorous conversation piece; for others, it created a valuable learning experience.
“I liked the challenge [of learning to be] careful with the machine,” stated senior Anthony Hinojosa. “I was scared at first but I got comfortable with it.”
For the finale of the trip, the group was able to tour the rest of the kitchen and offices, take photographs, and watch the chefs create meals.
“[The chefs] looked so cool!” said sophomore Kaylin Diep, “I felt excited because [on the way back] we got to prepare food for the elderly and homeless. [It makes me] feel good.”
Prior to working in the kitchen, students had to fill out liability forms, a skill they had previously been practicing in class. In addition, they were able to experience hands-on cooking, an extension of the weekly cooking lessons taught by Gelder himself.
“I was relieved everything went so well the first time around,” stated Gelder. “I’m happy the trip […] reinforced the things we already do in class in a new working environment.”
The class has already booked another trip to the Kitchen in February, and both Gelder and his students are excited to continue the job-training process.
The Los Angeles Kitchen works to combat food waste by purchasing and reclaiming fruits and vegetables deemed cosmetically imperfect.