Culinary Arts students served a free meal to veterans at CGEC and REC at their annual Veterans Day Luncheons on Nov 7.

An annual tradition for more than a decade, students and staff at Questar III’s Columbia-Greene and Rensselaer Educational Centers once again hosted local veterans for a free luncheon to honor and thank them for our service to our nation.

In all, more than 350 veterans visited the luncheons on November 7 an enjoyed a full meal courtesy of Culinary Arts and Introduction to Food Service students. Skills USA students and faculty and staff served as hosts of the meal, assisting with seating, serving and cleaning up, as well as jumping in wherever needed to make the day a success. Criminal Justice students also provided parking and traffic control services for guests.

The annual meal is a tradition students and staff at both centers look forward to each year. While the event is certainly a great hands-on experience for students looking to build a career in the hospitality industry, it’s also a way to give back and thank those who gave so much through their service in the armed forces.

Local veterans gather at REC for an annual Veterans Day luncheon on Nov. 7

Looking around the room, one will notice hats, jackets and patches ranging from World War II to Operation Enduring Freedom. When asked what makes the event so special, students are quick to say it’s the ability to offer a small token of appreciation for an oft forgotten group.

Chef Andrew Ottati (REC) and Chef Peter Desmond (CGEC) say while their classes have an intense hands-on curriculum in the kitchen, typically they prepare much smaller portions, so planning for and executing a meal of this size is a way to put what they’ve learned to the test and experience what it’s like to perform on a higher scale.

We would like to take this opportunity to thank all our veterans for their service, and for joining us at our luncheons again this year. Thank you also to all our students and staff who helped make the event a success once again!

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