Homemade dinner served for Catholic community


The TCU Catholic Community is one of the only groups on campus to regularly use the catering skills of students within the university department of nutritional sciences.

A nutritious homemade dinner is served every Wednesday after Mass for the TCU Catholic Community. 

Father Charlie Calabrese, the campus minister for the TCU Catholic Community, began collaborating with the department of nutritional sciences when the Faculty Center in Reed Hall was demolished in 2008.

The TCU Catholic Community decided to move their Mass from the old Faculty Center to the living room of the Annie-Richardson Bass Building. The Bass Building, which encompasses the department of nutritional sciences, was the only place on campus with a kitchen able to cater to the TCU Catholic Community, Calabrese said.

The department of nutritional sciences allowed Calabrese and the TCU Catholic Community to use the Bass Building but under one condition. The meal following Mass must be prepared and served by students within the nutritional sciences department.

Anne VanBeber, a professor and chair director for the department of nutritional sciences, and Calabrese began selecting one student each year to employ as head supervisor and chef for catering to the TCU Catholic Community.

“It’s been a great opportunity for our students to gain leadership and work experience,” VanBeber said.

This year Dana Faris, a junior nutrition major, is in charge of the catering. Several other students in the nutritional sciences department volunteer their time and culinary skills to assist Faris.

Each week, Faris and the volunteers first choose a recipe suited to feed a large quantity of people, she said. Faris then does her grocery shopping for the meal every Wednesday before Mass. She said she tries to choose healthy ingredients that cater to a variety of different diets.

“I try to choose recipes that cater to both gluten-free and vegetarians, and if I can’t do a whole meal based on that, I will at least do something specific for them,” Faris said.

Faris and the volunteers arrive at the kitchen each week usually an hour before Mass to prepare the meal, which serves 40 people. Each meal costs about $2 per serving to prepare, Faris said.

Faris, who volunteered last year before becoming head chef, said her two years of experience working with the TCU Catholic Community taught her how to effectively distribute work among a team, manage a budget and cook in mass quantities.

Calabrese said the student cooks have always been wonderful. He also asked Faris for three of her recipes for meals she made earlier in the semester.

“Dana cooks things that aren’t that difficult to cook, and they are nutritious and they taste good,” Calabrese said.

Faris said she will probably not be leading the catering next year because she intends to apply for the nutrition program, but she still plans on volunteering with the meal when she can.

“Working with Father Charlie and the Catholic Community has been absolutely wonderful,” Faris said. “It’s definitely gratifying having so many people so thankful for something that I would do anyway.”

The TCU Catholic Community celebrates Mass every Wednesday at 5:15 p.m. in Bass Building Room 107. All TCU students and staff are welcome to attend the Mass and stay for the free homemade meal that follows.