STEVENS POINT, Wis. (WAOW) -- The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic led to a domino effect of cancelations over the past year.
Usually dietetics students at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point serve their practicum semester creating and serving food in the school's CPS Cafe, but its been closed throughout the pandemic.
As a result of the closure, the University is finding ways to navigate around this obstacle. The dietetics program is partnering with Central Rivers Farmshed, a non-profit in Stevens Point, to produce hundreds of large quantity meals.
The meals tend to be large quantities of soup or chili.
This effort allows the kitchen to be open for students to gain required hands on experience that they need, as well as an opportunity to service those who may be less fortunate.
"So they're preparing meals for the community," CPS Cafe Director Kim Damrow said. "Farmshed was already doing that and they were maxing out their kitchen capacities. We thought we could help the community, give students the experience, and use a kitchen that otherwise wouldn't be operating."
Damrow said in order for students to become registered dieticians they'll need to go through an internship process with clinical, community, and food service rotations.
The work now provides an opportunity in a commercial kitchen on campus prior to graduation, which allows them to be better prepared.
After students prepare the meals, Central Rivers Farmshed then delivers them to area organizations, food banks, and other food security effort programs.
Farmshed has already created initiative programs with soups or chili as part of different fundraisers.
Anyone can buy the food and a portion of the proceeds go back into several food security efforts on behalf of the organizations.
Soups or chili that is not purchased is donated. Farmshed's Local Food Manager, Trevor Drake, said dietetics students are in need now more than ever of large quantity hands on experience.
Students are assisting the organization with building health equity in the Stevens Point community, according to Drake.
"When a non-profit and a university come together like this, it's the value that non-profits have to kind of leverage their resources and connections into a university that's just looking for ways to give back to the community," Drake said.
So far hundreds of people have been serviced.
Each week, the students create a new variety of soup that is packed into quart containers and provided to Farmshed.
Orders are taken at the “shop" between Thursday and Monday each week, with soup available for pick up or delivery on Wednesday.
To donate or get involved with the fundraising efforts, click here.