How thousands of homemade meals for Hillside Festival volunteers get made

Volunteers have been working in the evenings this week to prepare food for the volunteers who will be working at Hillside Festival just north of Guelph this weekend.

'This is a great way to be involved and also go for free,' volunteer Jerome Chang says

Natalie Campagnolo, centre, chats with volunteers who are helping prepare food for the volunteers at Hillside Festival this weekend. (Kate Bueckert/CBC News)

Steam rises from a big pot of black beans and sweet potatoes.

At another table, falafel mix is scooped out of a bowl and placed on parchment paper.

The late day sun streams in the windows at Loyola House on the grounds of St. Ignatius Jesuit Centre just north of Guelph, bounding warm light off stainless steel tables.

Volunteers were busy making items, like falafel, that will go into wraps for those working at Hillside Festival this weekend. (Natalie Campagnolo/Submitted)

Music is playing and there are about 15 people working in the busy kitchen, who laugh and chat with each other.

They are a small group of volunteers who are spending their evenings this week preparing about 3,000 meals for the volunteers who will be working at Hillside Festival this weekend.

"I actually get a lot of joy in feeding the volunteers. And I know that's kind of corny," pre-festival hospitality co-ordinator Natalie Campagnolo said, sitting down for a very quick break.

"Anyone who cooks professionally will tell you that there's something very satisfying about cooking for people."

Grab and go food

Campagnolo is leading the kitchen volunteers, who are making wraps, hummus and a Hillside trail mix called gorp.

"Everything must be grab and go just to facilitate some of the challenges of being in an outdoor kitchen," Campagnolo said.
A volunteer scoops a mixture of black beans and sweet potatoes that will be used for wraps into a container. A small group of volunteers have been preparing about 3,000 meals ahead of Hillside Festival this weekend. The made-from-scratch food will be used to feed the volunteers working at the event. (Kate Bueckert/CBC News)

She has worked in the hospitality tent at Guelph Lake Conservation Area during the festival in years past and she says this homemade food is something the volunteers are always grateful to eat.

Great trade-off

Many of the volunteers in the kitchen say they enjoy volunteering before the festival because it means they can enjoy the entire weekend of music and workshops.

Jerome Chang has had roles where he's driven around bands and helped out at workshops. That might seem more glamorous, but he said he prefers the kitchen.

Volunteers check on falafel, which is being made to feed the volunteers working at Hillside Festival this weekend near Guelph. (Kate Bueckert/CBC News)

"This is a great way to be involved and also go for free. It's a really great trade-off and I love meeting the people here," he said.

He also is looking forward to the food tent at the annual festival.

"A lot of people map out what performers they want to see," he said. "I like to map out the food vendors."

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