PRINGLE, LUZERNE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — A surface grinder at West Side Career & Technology Center is about the last thing you’d expect to be connected with preparing food. But in a way, it is, after the machine technology instructor learned many of his students weren’t getting enough to eat.

“During the COVID, I mean there wasn’t a lot available for these kids,” said Michael Galanda, machine technology instructor at West Side Career and Technical Center.

“I never had to really worry about that but I know there’s all these other kids in Luzerne County who may not be as fortunate as I am to have a meal on their table every night,” said Peter Baxter, a student at WSCTC. Reporter Mark Hiller asks, “So, it was an eye opener?” Peter replied, “Yeah, it definitely was an eye opener.”

Galanda contacted the Al Beech Food Pantry to provide food donations. His students did the rest.

“They were doing some prep work here making simple meals for the kids. Breakfast every day. It was nice. You know, the kids had a continuous source of food that they weren’t getting at home,” Galanda said.

The experience with the donated food from the pantry sparked an idea. A cookoff competition involving five teams, two students per team.

They chopped, seasoned and stirred last week inside the CTC culinary department. Three Luzerne County Community College volunteer judges taste-tested the finished products.

The dish taco pie with buttermilk biscuits which Peter Baxter and Carson Dixon made took first place. Besides earning certificates and $2,000 in LCCC scholarship money, the pair and their fellow competitors learned something even more valuable.

“We wanted to show them that we do care, that there is a path after they graduate from vo-tech and that they’re a very vital part of our community,” said Clancy Harrison, founder of The Food Dignity Project.

“With them, I learned so much. Like, I didn’t know about half of the things that they were telling me about,” said Dixon.

You can find more information about The Food Dignity Project on their website and follow them on social media on their Facebook page.