NORTH BAY -- It was a good day for North Bay fire and emergency services, who got a special thank you from Canadore College culinary students in the form of a three-course gourmet lunch.

“They’re working so hard,” said first-year student Ryder Courvoisier. “They’re trying to do so much out there for our community and being able to give them food is just really relieving almost.”

Since January, the culinary program has been giving back to frontline workers with lunch bags filled with homemade bread and fresh salads.

“You get an appetizer, a main and a dessert,” said first-year student Cherelyn Giguere. “Today we have mulligatawny soup or we have the salad and then there’s the pastrami or chicken salad on house-made bread or a pizza or a taco bowl. Then the desserts are a variety of desserts.”

There are about 26 culinary students at the college right now who make about 60 meals a week with one set of them going to frontline workers.

“Given that I am also a volunteer with a youth group, I really do appreciate that we’re giving back to those that are working extremely hard during these difficult times,” said Giguere.

“They do a lot for us,” added Courvoisier. “Especially with this pandemic. They’ve been out there doing everything, literally. I’m sure getting meals every day is a nice relief, not having to make their lunch.”

NB lunch 2

This was the case for fire and emergency services on Tuesday, who grateful for the edible thank-you after a particularly challenging week -- on top of a hard year.

“It’s been challenging,” said fire captain Terry Hargrave. “Now the good part is we have a place to go, still go to work. The challenging part is it's been a challenge for a lot of people. A lot of people unemployed. A lot of people going through some things and there’s some special challenges going on in North Bay.”

The culinary program had to adapt during the COVID-19 pandemic, but officials said they’ve found a way to meet the requirements, teach the skills and give back.

“We’ve been getting some great feedback,” said program coordinator Derek Lawdey. “We feel it’s necessary to both satisfy the needs of the students, which is the outcomes and them learning to cook under pressure, but also support all these people out there that can’t get away from their work or give them a treat.”

Courvoisier said it takes about three hours to put together the full meal, with the students starting the ovens around 7:30 a.m.

“It’s great honestly, to be able to still do stuff, even with this whole pandemic,” he said. “There’s a lot that we haven’t been able to do, but just being able to do takeout food and give back … is a lot better than just doing nothing. We could just not be here, we could not have anything open and it would suck.”