Hands-on experience with Caf Co.

Ken Kellar

One of the programs at Confederation College has partnered with a local business to teach its students some important life and food skills.

Students from the Community Integration through Co-operative Education (CICE) program recently spent time with the staff and students at The Caf Co, which operates the cafeteria at Fort Frances High School, in order to learn a bit more about healthy meal planning and prep.

Carla Lampi is the instructor for “Navigating a Healthy Lifestyle” and “Transition to College,” both programs offered at the college as part of the CICE program.

She explained that working with The CafCo. allowed for the students to gain a better understanding of kitchens for professional and personal benefit.

“So what we wanted for our students in the CICE program from [NCDS executive director] Nicke [Paddock] and from Heather Calder, the manager at The Caf Co., we wanted them involved behind the scenes in the kitchen,” Lampi said.

“[We wanted them] to know the basics of service industry, the hands on culinary skills that they could learn or be a part of at some point.”

Through the “Navigating a Healthy Lifestyle” course, students focus on making good choices when it comes to food, personal hygiene and physical activity, with trips to local gyms to learn about and use different equipment. The course, then, was a good fit to work with The Caf Co. on a number of different topics.

“Healthy cooking was very important,” Lampi said.

“So through our ‘Navigating a Healthy Lifestyle,’ the students are brought the program core curriculum in terms of food content, reading labels, how to create a healthy menu from breakfast to lunch to supper/dinner, and we wanted that entrepreneurial spin as well from The Caf Co. Kitchen procedures, anything and everything to do with the food industry.”

Lampi explained that Paddock walked the CICE students through many of the procedures that are followed at The Caf Co., from the prep area for food to dishwashing to serving FFHS students. The CICE students also had some opportunities for hands on learning as well.

“They created smoothies within the kitchen area,” Lampi said.

“[They learned] how efficient and organized everything was and how then it’s easy to create something healthy, so organization is key. Then we went out into the cafeteria itself, more room-wise, and made parfaits, so how to read through a recipe and create from there, and again, always the hygiene, like rolling up your sleeves and making sure your hands are washed, things like that.”
As a part of the program, students take part in three different work placements to gain on the job experience, and Lampi said that having the new business as a placement partner in the future is a possibility.

As for the CICE students themselves, Lampi said the experience was definitely a positive one.

“[It was] fantastic,” she said.

“It was a boost in the confidence of, ‘Hey, we can do this,’ and now we can go home and maybe transfer the skills that we learned hands-on to being able to set it up at home, independent cooking and again those healthy choices we’re trying to emphasize.”