Teenage culinary students at Gerald R. Claps Career & Technical Center in Levittown on Friday stood next to each other at stainless steel counters busily chopping apples, stirring sauce and kneading dough for meals that would be cooked and served to Sandy evacuees at the Red Cross shelter set up down the hallway.
They never passed the double doors that led to the shelter. They didn’t know who was staying there, but they knew that they were hungry.
“They’re our neighbors,” said Veronica Ramirez, 17, of Hicksville. “They don’t have houses from Hurricane Sandy, so we’re going to help them with our cooking.”
A portion of the center was transformed into a Red Cross Shelter last Sunday, and Friday was the first day the students started making meals for the 130 people staying there. Local restaurants have donated meals, but the regular fare has been meals ready to eat.
“Our standard menu is MREs, and after a week of those it’s pretty miserable,” said Tom Mehaffie, the manager of the Red Cross shelter at the center
The students started making bread at 6 a.m. By the end of the day, they had prepared about 60 pounds of chicken, 40 pounds of vegetables, 36 pounds of rice, 100 chocolate chip cookies and 380 rolls.
“They work hard,” said William Samboy, the director of the culinary arts program. “It’s times like these that you have to pitch in and do what you can.”
The students are cooking on an as-needed basis and will continue until they aren’t needed, according to Samboy, 55, of East Meadow.
“We’re here and we have the capacity to help, so we will,” said Samboy. “Us New Yorkers work together.”
PHOTO: Carla Primiani, 17, of Levittown, and William Samboy, the director of the culinary arts program at Gerald R. Claps Career & Technical Center, in Levittown, flatten dough for pies being made for a Red Cross shelter at the school, in Levittown. (Nov. 9, 2012)