Visitors at Central Pantry in Columbia this spring are getting an unexpected treat: freshly prepared culinary creations from the Columbia Area Career Center.

Culinary arts instructor Katie Frink and a student are coming to the pantry a total of six times to prepare dishes using fresh produce from the Columbia Urban Garden alongside pantry products.

It is a triple win. Career center students are getting exposure to a different side of the food industry; the Columbia Center for Urban Agriculture is getting an opportunity to show off its fresh fruits and vegetables and pantry clients are getting to try new foods.

On April 19, boxes of Indian crackers were flying off the shelf after Frink and student Giovanni Bartolacci paired them with a custom spinach dip. Before that, people seemed reluctant to take the unfamiliar brand of crackers, said Sean Ross, pantry supervisor.

"The main benefit is showing clients something they've never seen before and how to use it," he said. "But there's also the wonderful smell. You think you're in a restaurant."