Fresh and free food, courtesy of Laney’s Keith Eliot Welch

March 16, 2017 11:22 AM

Hungry crowds have lined up, signed in and gotten ready to enjoy a free meal, gratis du jour, every Monday since the current semester began. Their benefactor is Keith Eliot Welch, a culinary arts student, president of the Laney Culinary Arts Club and an ASLC senator.
Welch got the idea to serve free food when he found that nothing other than cold vending machine food was available after 2 p.m. on campus.
He started a “Green Monday” program, which promotes green lifestyle choices and is built on the success of the “Meatless Mondays” program.
Now, every Monday and Tuesday at about 4:30 he serves up free nutritious meals for Laney students. A current student ID card is required. These can be obtained for free at the Student Welcome Center.
Welch is also working to make the Laney Catering Service a success.
With the continued support of the Laney student government and growing list of catering clients, he hopes his efforts to feed students will grow and become available permanently.
In his rare spare time you can find Welch in his Student Center office, planning meals, fundraising, mentoring culinary students, or organizing his next project.
When asked what he thinks about Welch, Leo Foster, secretary of the Culinary Arts Club, said, “Welch is a very caring person who wants what is best for the students, and also he is a great guy.”
One year ago, Welch started the Culinary Arts Club because he saw that the culinary arts students’ interests were under-represented and that they were not participating enough in campus life. Since those first days Welch has remained focused, and continues working on his vision to make Laney food services a culinary fixture in the Oakland catering market.
On the afternoon of March 6, he was setting up chafing dishes, and helping keep food safe at about 4 p.m. in the Student Center.
He was jolly and eager while getting ready to serve meatless legumes over rice, cabbage, buttermilk cornbread, salad and peaches for dessert. All the food is cooked and served up with a passion similar to everyone’s grandmother’s.
Welch likes to call this event Green Monday. This indicates the menu does not include any meat products; it has also been called Meatless Mondays. What makes this so special is all free.
Informed students know it is rare to see any hot food after 2 p.m. offered by the college. Now, because of Welch, students can at least get food Monday’s, and it is all free at 4 p.m.
While going through the grueling program to become a chef, Welch finds the time to order food, prepare it, set-up, serve and then clean-up for the Laney student community.
He was also an active member of student government; he held the position of ASLC senator until classes conflicted with meeting times. He has served as president of the Culinary Arts Club since 2016.
Welch works tirelessly to engage culinary students, urging them to begin composting and gardening. He also wants Laney culinary students use the Laney gardens to grow vegetables for the Bistro. This would make the Laney Bistro a farm-to-table food provider.
If he could do a few more things while here, he would like to produce a cooking show on the Peralta network and be involved in starting a food pantry to benefit students.
Welch’s next big event of this semester is approaching quickly. Look for Welch and the club to participate in the annual spring Peralta Ecofest. Welch said, “I will be working closely with Chef Chantal Martin on the food for the 2017 Ecofest.”
If you want to know more, or have a food handlers certificate and want catering experience, or would like to volunteer to help serve, contact Welch via email at kewe4551@cc.peralta.edu.

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