A volunteer stocking shelves with canned food at the Field and Fork Pantry on UF's campus in 2016. 

Students will have a chance to experience meals from around the world without leaving Gainesville.

Jenny Duong and Robert Colon, in collaboration with the UF Field and Fork Pantry and the UF food science and human nutrition department, are hosting global kitchen cooking classes and demonstrations. The first free class was held Wednesday.

Duong, 19-year-old UF food science sophomore, and Colon, a 26-year-old UF dietetics junior are interns in the department. 

The two hope the classes will help students sharpen their cooking skills and reduce food insecurity by giving demonstrations on how to buy cheap, healthy food. It’ll also teach students how to prepare and cook meals. 

The pantry’s goal is to decrease food insecurity by providing meals, according to its website.

A study done by the UF Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences showed that of 244 first-year students polled at UF, 21.7 percent were food insecure. Food insecurity is defined as lacking access to healthy or adequate food, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. 

Students will have to sign up every month on a Google Doc on the Field and Fork Pantry’s website. Each class has a maximum of 30 students on a first-come, first-served basis. Students will receive an email either stating they are a participant or have been put on a waitlist.

Student chefs will showcase dishes from a different country every month, including Vietnam, India, Morocco and Mexico. 

“We wanted to feature countries with fresh ingredients and a unique spice blend,” Colon said.

All of the preparations are vegetarian, and most are vegan, but participants have the option to tweak the recipes to add meat to their meals.

In Wednesday’s class on Vietnamese food, Jenna Hidalgo, a 19-year-old UF criminology sophomore learned how to make spring rolls and pho, traditional Vietnamese dishes.  

“I always go out of my way to find restaurants that serve pho,” Hidalgo said. “When I found out that the class was on making pho, I knew I had to go.”