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While it’s always a challenge to transition courses to a remote format, culinary classes are especially hard. However, Montgomery College’s Jana Anderson, assistant professor and coordinator of the Hotel Management Department, has created a meal kits program for the students enrolled in food production and catering, and banquets courses.

Food kits being prepared for student pick-up.
Food kits being prepared for student pick-up.

Montgomery College, along with a grant from The J. Willard and Alice S. Marriott Foundation, funds the food production classes so students are not paying any additional costs. Anderson wanted to make sure that funding assistance remained in place this semester, especially “during a time when many of our students suffered financial hardship due to loss of a job or hours because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Cancelling the labs would prevent some of our students from graduating this semester or delay their graduation plans,” said Anderson. She added that it was important to keep the health and safety all of those involved as the highest priority.

The meal kits were distributed using similar protocols to grocery store pickups. The classes meet and cook together via Zoom. They have made delicious meals such as chicken tortilla soup and citrus roasted chicken with warm fennel salad. Anderson said, “One of the benefits of virtual cooking is that some of our students’ families get to be in on the fun!”

Although, I would love to get that interaction in the kitchen with my classmates and the professor, safety is more important.

Students seem to prize the safety that this culinary adaptation provides while cooking at home in their own kitchens. “Although, I would love to get that interaction in the kitchen with my classmates and the professor, safety is more important,” said Tiffany Barrett, one of the students. Barrett is grateful that she is still able to take her classes and that Professor Anderson has made the transition accommodating and enjoyable.

Instructor Edgar Hernandez delivering an ingredient kit to one of his student's.
Instructor Edgar Hernandez delivering an ingredient kit to one of his students.

“The well-planned adjustment to the structure of the class has made a beneficial difference,” she said.

Anderson researched the different options for holding these types of classes. She discovered that most colleges either cancelled the classes, or had students pay for the ingredients needed. Then, she came across one college doing meal pick-ups for the students: “I realized this was what we needed to do here at MC.”

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