CLEVELAND — Alere is a student-run restaurant designed to give students at Cuyahoga Community College experience in all aspects of restaurant operations. from cooking to seating and serving patrons.
And students like Brandon Pusateri have still been serving up delicious dishes despite closing their reservation book for months due the the coronavirus pandemic.
“A couple weeks ago, we did a meat loaf. They elevated it. So, if you like cream cheese and some kind of spinach with that, and then today like we're doing like a chicken pierre, so a lot of more upper scale stuff,” Pusateri says.
The 12-table eatery usually caters to diners four days a week to continue getting required experience. These culinary and hospitality students are running full service, placing orders, preparing picture perfect plates and serving them to tables where paper cut outs occupy the seats. But once class is finished, these meals don’t go to waste—they go to community members who need them most, like those who line up daily to receive free food at the St. Malachi Parish Back Door Ministry.
Raquel Jones is the executive director of the ministry. She says since the pandemic hit, the need for food donations has increased significantly.
“This community here and throughout Ohio City," Jones said. "They really do understand the need, you know, because they can see it. They can see it, walking up and down the street every day.”
Deanna Manners is the assistant professor of the school's hospitality department. She says the meals cooked in the Alere kitchen are packaged and delivered to the back door ministry every Wednesday and Thursday.
“We’re able to service the students by doing a face-to-face, on-ground class, and then the students are able to service their community with the food product that they create. So, it's a win-win,” Manners says.
“I hope they feel like they're being acknowledged and that they're being fed quality food," Pusateri says.
Jones says everything the back door ministry is able to do for those in need is because of volunteers and donations. She’s grateful to the students, and says they are learning a major lesson about giving back— a lesson that goes beyond the kitchen.
“It's just as simple as this: they are getting an education in more than one thing," Jones says.