UMES Hospitality and Tourism Management students at the Shady Grove campus in Rockville, Md. recently raised $25,000 to support a non-profit organization that helps low-income families get back on their feet.

The students partnered with local chefs and food producers to raise money for the Campus Kitchens Project, a national community service project for students devoted to hunger relief.

The UMES students who participate in the Campus Kitchens Project routinely use what they learn in class to create nutritious meals for residents of The Dwelling Place of Gaithersburg as well as hold workshops to teach basic cooking skills and advocate for hunger awareness in Montgomery County.

Those students took their community-service activism to a new level in late April when they organized a gourmet meal fundraiser, “Dining with the Chefs,” in which they worked alongside some of the Washington area’s best-known chefs.

The chefs, including honorary event chairman, Ype Von Hengst of the Silver Diner, donated time and resources to teach students who belong to the Campus Kitchens Project chapter at Shady Grove how to recreate dishes from their respective restaurants.

The students then used the recipes to create a four-course tasting menu, which were paired with wines donated from the Maryland Wineries Association. The UMES student pastry class, with help of chef mentors and la Madeleine of Rockville, followed the tasting menu with “decadent desserts.”

Five percent of the proceeds were donated to The Dwelling Place; the rest will be used to further Campus Kitchens’ mission of fighting hunger in Montgomery County.

Ruth Lee O’Rourke, the program director of hotel-tourism management at Shady Grove, called the event – nearly two years in the making – a “breakout success.” The smiles on the faces of participants in online photos, including Princess Anne campus leaders, reflect that claim. 

“Hospitality is more than just working in the industry and that’s what this event is about,” UMES alumnus Mark Whitelock said. “We can use our work to help others, but we can also teach others why it’s important to help. By helping others you help yourself.”