SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4) — Thanksgiving traditions come in many forms, and many of them involve food. One tradition in Salt Lake City feeds 1,000 people who can’t leave their homes while giving high school students real-world restaurant experience.   

Inside the industrial kitchen at the University of Utah, dozens of people prepare food worthy of any restaurant. This food, however, is given to those who need a warm meal the most.   

A decade ago, the Salt Lake City Salvation Army’s kitchen burned down. The organization asked the Utah Restaurant Association for help, and they did so by lending them the university’s kitchen.

Under the ProStart program, high schoolers from across northern Utah spent four days helping professional chefs prepare 1,000 meals.   

“We do this through our ProStart program,” said Melva Sine, president of the Utah Restaurant Association. “Why? Because our ProStart program is advanced culinary in the high schools and these kids need the experience and they need to understand how service is giving back.”

With that, volunteers arrived in drones, and a tradition was born.   

“We have one young lady from Herriman who got an Uber here every day and did 10 hours,” said Peter Hodgson, executive chef at the University of Utah. “Volunteered!”

Sine plays a crucial part in making sure this tradition will continue to move forward without a hitch.

Once the food is prepared, it is shipped to the Salt Lake City Salvation Army. There, more volunteers box the food into meal containers, and dinner is served. But not in the way one may expect.    

“Meals on Wheels recipients are invited to sign up for a meal if they are going to be home alone,” said Lt. Kate Combs, the core officer for the Salvation Army.

She explained that drivers deliver the meals to the homes of those spending the holiday alone.   

Other meals are delivered to military personnel and other residents across the county who may need a home-cooked meal.

“I just think what we’re seeing today is just a great example of people helping people,” Combs said.