How to Make an Impact on Your Community with Food

For many of our career-minded students, the reason they’re investing in culinary school is because they want to do something more with their lives; something they can be proud of. A culinary career is a great way to do that “something more,” particularly if you’re wanting to make a positive impact on your community.

Food Brings People Together

One of the best qualities of food is its universality. No matter who you are, what you look like, or what you believe, you need to eat. Food surpasses all differences and brings people together in a way nothing else can. If you want to really get to know someone, all you have to do is invite them over for dinner.

UT Culinary Food Truck Service

Students enrolled in our 12-week certificate program have the privilege of hosting several large-scale public catering events, one of our favorites being our food truck extravaganza. At least once every session, our students work with a food truck operator (like Brandon Wilson, chef-owner of Gonzo Gourmet) to provide a delicious $5 lunch in downtown Knoxville. In just a few hours, our students cook and serve lunch to about 200-300 people. Not only is this a great way to practice their cooking and customer service skills in a fast-paced, high-stress environment, it’s also a great way to meet new people from all walks of life, provide them an affordable, great-tasting meal, and wish them well as they go about the rest of their day.

Read: UT Culinary & Catering Students Impress Knoxville with 4 Amazing Luncheons

Food Shows Appreciation

UT Culinary Students Thank First Responders WBIRIf you want to show someone you’re thankful for their service, cook for them! At the UT Culinary & Catering Program, we know this all too well, and we are always looking for opportunities to say “thank you” with food. Many of our student-hosted live catering events are executed with the purpose of giving back to the Knoxville and surrounding communities.

UT Culinary & Catering Student Prepares Lunch Event
Photo Credit: Elizabeth Myers Photography

Earlier this year, our students prepared a fantastic Mediterranean feast for supporters of Second Harvest Food Bank and Blount County first responders. While expressing their gratitude, this hands-on experience taught our students how to plan and manage charity events should they become a part of their own culinary career.

“[Working this event] really gets us in the mindset of how these events take place, how they are set up, what equipment you need. It gets us thinking for our future, for our jobs and whatever we’re going to end up doing after this.” – Adam Lopez, Class of 2017


Food Gives You Something to Say

You can have an even bigger impact on your community when you make a name for yourself. UT Culinary & Catering graduate Shona House has used her cake-baking skills to help others realize their dreams inside and outside of our 12-week certificate program. This summer, she led a birthday and specialty cake workshop for middle and high school kids where they learned how to bake, layer, and finish cakes suitable for any event.

More recently, her passion for cooking has taken her to a whole new level. Shona and her sons became competitors on season eight of Food Network’s “The Great Food Truck Race.” The show premiered on August 20, 2017, and we are very excited to see how they do!

Are you ready to do something big? Find out more about how the UT Culinary & Catering Program can help you in your journey towards culinary success by registering for a free information session. You can do so online or by contacting Pam Quick at or 865-974-3181.