Reading's homeless treated to 5-star dining experience

READING, Pa. - For one night at Opportunity House in Reading, pasta primavera, Tuscan chicken and bruschetta are all on the menu. It's a "5-star dining" experience for the homeless, thanks to students from Penn State Berks.

"[Students will] also be decorating the dining room," said Autumn Fritz, the director of community development at PSU Berks. "They'll be serving as hostesses."

About 20 students volunteered to chop, prep and serve the meals to the clients of the shelter Tuesday.

Fritz said the clients "have never been shy about their gratitude when we've been here for any of our dinners."

"Being homeless, some of the clients don't get to go out to nice restaurants," said Orlando Long, a case worker at Opportunity House, "so I think having the 5-star dinner is like a treat for them."

Penn State Berks students are actually here once a month to prepare meals for the clients, but once a semester, things get a little fancier.

"It takes a little bit more planning," said Fritz, "both on the student end as well as on the planning end and the shopping end."

Three full courses, center pieces and decor are part of the experience, one that school officials said helps the students just as much as the clients.

"I think the students really get a better understanding of the people they're serving," said Fritz.

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