Elgin Park Secondary’s DECA Business Club – including Jenny Liu, Katrina Xiao, Doris Tian, Howard Cheung, York Wang and Bobby Qiao (missing is Ava Liang) –is hosting a two-week Eat Local campaign, starting Monday, Nov. 19. (Tracy Holmes photo)

South Surrey students aim to spice up peers’ taste buds and promote business

Two-week Eat Local campaign launches today

Business enthusiasts at Elgin Park Secondary are digging in to the local restaurant scene in an effort to connect their peers with the buffet of dining-out options in White Rock/South Surrey.

Students with Elgin’s DECA Business Club say they began researching their two-week ‘Eat Local’ campaign two months ago, after brainstorming ideas over the summer.

“We’re trying to explore the local food community,” Doris Tian, the club’s president, told Peace Arch News this week.

“We’re just a bunch of high-schoolers, and we love food, so that’s how it all started. We’ve been discovering just a whole bunch of food that we love.”

The campaign offers Peninsula teens with a valid student ID card from Elgin, Semiahmoo and Earl Marriott secondaries, as well as Southridge School, discounts of up to 15 per cent at dozens of eateries – from restaurants and sweet shops to bakeries and cafes – throughout South Surrey and White Rock, from Nov. 19 to Dec. 2.

According to Tian and fellow Grade 12 club leaders Katrina Xiao, Howard Cheung, Jenny Liu, York Wang and Bobby Qiao, about 50 local businesses have agreed to be involved. The students negotiated the discounts in exchange for a commitment to promote the businesses’ involvement, including through social media.

The process was “quite time-consuming,” Tian said – but well worth it.

In addition to building their communication skills, the students say they learned valuable skills such as teamwork and negotiating tactics, that can be applied to whatever career path they ultimately embark on.

Wang said he was surprised by resistance to the idea from businesses he first approached, but soon realized what was causing it.

“Initially, I thought it would be very easy to convince them to work with us,” he said.

When he changed his approach to start with how the campaign would benefit the business, rather than how it would benefit the students, things turned around, Wang said.

Such learnings are all part of what DECA – described on the students’ eatlocalevent.com website as “a global student business organization dedicated to promoting young business minds and advocating for them to get involved in their community” – is designed to offer, the students say.

All six are original members of Elgin’s club, which launched to give students who are interested in business opportunities “an environment to learn,” Qiao said.

READ MORE: South Surrey students’ business savvy pays off in Texas

“It has helped,” he added, noting he is interested in finance and investment.

He cited as example a virtual business challenge hosted by the club which “enforced my thought that I actually enjoy the topic.”

And students don’t have to be aiming for a career in business to benefit, Tian said.

“We have art majors and we have biology science lovers,” she said, of club members, who hail from all grades at the school.

The Eat Local campaign also has the support of the South Surrey & White Rock Chamber of Commerce.

Executive director Ritu Khanna described it as “a great story of young people coming together to build an interesting and engaging program to help our local businesses.”

“The Chamber of Commerce endorses their efforts,” she told PAN by email.

The students, meanwhile, say they are looking forward to helping promote the local businesses, and sampling some new fare.

Tian said each has discovered a new food or eatery they plan to check out in the coming weeks.

For more information, visit www.eatlocalevent.com

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