Seniors in Nucla Enjoy a Home-Cooked Meal by High School Students  Students in True North’s Catering Apprenticeship Program Gain Real Life Experience

  • Published
  • On March 4, 2022

On February 25th, six teenage participants in True North’s Catering Apprenticeship Program (CAP) served up a home cooked meal to over 45 senior citizens at the Nucla-Naturita Senior Center, under the direction of Nucla resident Doylene Garvey and True North staff members Vivian Russell and Loren Knobbe. The Senior Center is equipped with a commercial kitchen, and the group spent two days preparing for this special event. It had been over a year since the seniors had gathered in-person to enjoy a meal together, and Doylene talked to the youth about the importance of community service, especially serving our treasured senior citizens, and honoring them through creating an extra special experience.

The students were paid for their time by Region10, and many people donated ingredients to make the event a success. Michelle Blunt purchased fresh greens and other salad fixings through grant funding, Valentine Farm donated meatballs, salad dressing, and parmesan cheese, and Doylene donated ingredients to teach the students how to make her Aunt Nellie’s famous rolls and pie crust. The menu consisted of fresh salad, spaghetti and meatballs, home-made rolls with butter, and pies made from scratch by the CAP students. Doylene brought fresh flowers, which the students arranged on the tables, and the meal was served restaurant-style, each table with their own CAP student as a server, so the seniors could relax and enjoy each other’s company.

After the meal, the seniors enjoyed coffee and games of bingo, with prizes provided by the Rimrockers Historical Society. Some of the students even donated extra time beyond their paid shifts to stay and make sure that the facility was left in ship-shape condition. The seniors gave the CAP youth a lot of positive feedback, and there is now a plan to continue offering a free meal the last Friday of every month.

There are eight Nucla high students participating in True North Youth Program’s Catering Apprenticeship Program, ranging from the 9th-12th grades. The 16 week program is in its first year, and participants attend weekly classes on their no-school Fridays. CAP is based on a paid-apprenticeship model for career development, and the students are learning many aspects of the catering and food service industry, from cooking to serving, to front and back of house skills, and working as a team to produce an event from start to finish. All the while, they are learning concepts and industry standards for safe food handling, and at the end of the program will be taking the ServSafe test to gain their National Restaurant Association’s Safe Food Handlers certification. The group will also engage in career development and resume writing workshops through True North’s annual Jobs Fair program and plans to visit Western Colorado Community College’s Culinary Arts program on the campus of Colorado Mesa University in Grand Junction. The CAP students are already engaging in newfound employment opportunities, with community events and regional restaurants and catering businesses.

True North Youth Program serves teens in San Miguel and West Montrose counties by offering free year-round positive youth development programs for high school students in the Telluride, Norwood, and West End school districts. To learn more about True North’s programs for regional youth, visit www.truenorthyouthprogram.org.

To learn more about the issues facing the Nucla-Naturita Senior Meals program, check out the recent article in the Telluride Daily Planet / Norwood Post here:  https://www.telluridenews.com/norwood_post/article_2c55ec44-98f8-11ec-a303-2332c77abfc2.html?fbclid=IwAR32lsyd0GnIDUcZ7bVYNTidGdz5kbbZAHrRJbFutNXyE9p0eREwk_2k_h4