PB & J For a Good Cause

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Although students at The Culinary Institute of America are typically known for preparing gourmet food, it was the recent preparation of simple PB & J that drew the appreciation of many in the community. Several CIA resident assistants (RAs), working with college staff, organized more than 100 students to make and deliver peanut butter and jelly sandwiches for soup kitchens and food pantries in the Hudson Valley.

Assembly-line tables were set up on April 7 in The Egg, the student dining venue on the college’s Hyde Park campus—and in just one hour, the students and RAs had made and wrapped almost 4,000 sandwiches. By Monday morning, all those PB & Js were divided up and driven to eight charitable organizations in nearby Poughkeepsie and Kingston, NY.

“We started this project as a way to help our local community,” says Dr. James Manley, associate dean for campus life and student development at the CIA. “Each day we have hundreds, if not thousands, of community members who are in need of food, for one reason or another. This brings our students together in a fun activity that helps them connect with one another while also helping to serve a need in our area.”

The effort did not go unnoticed by community leaders. “We are so grateful for The Culinary Institute of America’s generous and thoughtful efforts in providing thousands of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to various organizations in our city,” says Poughkeepsie Mayor Rob Rolison. “This is just another example of what a community should look like—organizations and people caring about others who many times need their help.”

The food and equipment for this good cause was donated to the CIA by The J. M. Smucker Company (720 pounds of Jif peanut butter and 600 pounds of Smucker’s grape jelly), Bimbo Bakeries USA (350 loaves of Freihofer’s wheat bread), and HILL & MARKES (sandwich bags and food preparation gloves).

This is the second year the CIA’s Residence Life staff spearheaded the peanut-butter-and-jelly-making evening for charity. Last year, 3,000 sandwiches were produced and delivered to The Bowery Mission in lower Manhattan. The 2017 recipients were Dutchess Outreach, Salvation Army, Youth Mission Outreach, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church, and Holy Light Pentecostal Church in Poughkeepsie; and Caring Hands Soup Kitchen, People’s Place Food Pantry, and Chiz’s Heart Street in Kingston.

“We are very thankful for all of our sponsors and volunteers that make this a reality and we are hoping this becomes a tradition on our campus in the years ahead,” adds Dr. Manley.