Students weren’t afraid to “dig in” to the ingredients while prepping an evening meal for more than 80 residents at the Columbus House Overflow Shelter in New Haven.
With their hands encased in plastic gloves, the young chefs mixed mozzarella and ricotta cheeses – 10 pounds and 12 pounds respectively! – to layer in between the lasagna pasta sheets. Two gallons of sauce and 20 pounds of a meat mixture made up of beef, pork, and veal also made their way into the cooking trays.
“The kids get involved in the lasagna-making very easily. The different ingredients and layers make it interesting for them, and they like to get their hands in there to mix it up,” said Middle School language teacher Margarita Kuhn-D’Elia, whose advisor group was one of three involved in the afternoon meal prep along with those of Karl Gasteyer and Jose Martinez.
The Life is Delicious community service project has become an annual staple for Middle School students as each year the various advisor groups gather in the cafeteria to whip up lasagna, salad, fresh fruit, and cupcakes.
Students learn in advance about Columbus House and its mission and then descend upon the school’s kitchen under the guidance of past parent and chef-extraordinaire Christine Fontana to dice, chop, peel, and mix.
Friday’s undertaking was the first of four planned meals for the shelter for the 2019-2020 school year. Twenty-seven students engaged in the project this time around. Seven of those students: Will Christman, Emerson Collins, Payton Collins, Parker Jones, Matthew Maniatty, Mila Millhouse, and Nyla Zundell also traveled to the shelter to serve the meal later that day.
“I’m going because I want to serve the community. It’s fun to make the meal for them because I know that I’m doing a good thing. I’m helping someone else but it’s also fun,” said seventh-grader Matthew Maniatty.
Classmate Mila Millhouse agreed, adding “People are less fortunate than us, and this will make their day and put a smile on their face.”
Parents Linda Maniatty and Lewis Zundell also helped with both the cooking and serving.
According to Middle School Director Brian Christman, Hamden Hall is now in its ninth year of participating in Life is Delicious having begun the initiative during the 2011-2012 school year.
“Friday’s trip to the shelter was the 31st time the Middle School has served at Columbus House. That is roughly 2,325 total meals served by Hamden Hall over the years,” said Mr. Christman.