Jenna Toews, a first year baking student, models a pair of the hemmed Pant-a-Thon pants. Photo credit: Kieran Morgan

When Linda Robbins and Angela Ierullo, both graduates of Algonquin’s culinary program, had been working in volunteer kitchens and at the college when they noticed something unusual about culinary students working around them. Some of them were using duct tape or staples to hold up their unhemmed pants.

Ierullo and Robbins were concerned about the safety of the culinary uniform without proper hems, in addition to the professionalism of the garb. Having been friends prior to their courses at the college, they decided to investigate the matter together.

They learned that many students were living away from home and lacked the skills or equipment to hem their pants. They also found hemming services were expensive and inconvenient to access.

So the women decided to see if they could come up with a solution.

Over the next couple of months, the pair came up with a proposal after working out the various steps to hemming, getting equipment, gathering volunteers and ensuring cost efficiency.

After receiving approval from the culinary administration, they were able to perform a test in which they hemmed 20 pairs of pants for $8 each. Thus, in 2016, the Pant-a-Thon program was born.

The program now happens every AC Day 1, and with over 40 volunteers primarily comprised of retirees, it has been running for four years.

“It’s culinary students paying back Algonquin students with food- they’re trading pant hemming for food,” said Robbins. In 2016, the program included the hemming fees with the tuition of the students, and the proceeds went towards the Algonquin College Food Cupboard.

Cory Haskins, the culinary program coordinator, worked with the women to organize this program. For those in the program, it’s not just about safety.

“It’s all about professionalism,” said Haskins. “They need to be neat, clean, and ready to go.”

Jenna Toews, 19, a first-year baking student at the college, agrees.

“If you don’t look professional, you won’t be taken seriously.”