During every event at the Erwin Center, our food service provider, Sodexo, is there to feed our hungry guests. It takes a highly skilled staff to cater to the thousands of people that visit our building during any given week, and Sodexo does that, not only here at the arena, but also at DKR – Texas Memorial Stadium and in the Athlete’s Dining Hall (also known as “the training table”).
This past summer, Sodexo partnered locally with the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas to help end hunger in Central Texas. For many events, Sodexo prepares food for a set number of guests, which those in the event business call a “guarantee.” In the event not all of the guests attend, this results in leftover food that was prepared and never served. Instead of trashing this food, Sodexo is now donating the food to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas and to date has donated over 500 pounds of prepared food which equals about 415 meals!
“Millions go hungry every day. We saw this need and I thought to myself, there has to be a better use for this food than to put it in the trash,” said Rebecca Mann, Sodexo Catering Director.
Sodexo collects the prepared food (cooked) from catered events at the Erwin Center and DKR and delivers it to the food bank in accordance to food safety guidelines. Prepared foods also contain meat unlike non-perishable foods that are often donated. Soup kitchens and organizations with commercial kitchens benefit the most from donated prepared foods since they are frozen in aluminum trays. Meeting the safety requirements to prepare and freeze the food for donation can be challenging, making the partnership with Sodexo vital to the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas. Nationally, Sodexo created standard operating procedures to safely package and prepare the food for donation and the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas reviewed the guidelines.
“We’re really excited about this new partnership and the opportunity for it to grow. We’re also thankful to have a partner that is so forward thinking to reduce waste and help put food on the table for folks who need it,” said Sara LeStrange, Communications Director for the Capital Area Food Bank of Texas.
Sodexo is also working with the UT chapter of the Food Recovery Network to fight hunger. Leftover prepared food from the training table, which is located in the athlete’s dining hall, is donated to Longhorn Food Recovery Network every week or every other week. To date, more than 200 pounds of food from the training table has been donated. The Longhorn Food Recovery Network is run by students and is an ideal way for Sodexo to help students become involved in fighting hunger.
On a national level, the Sodexo Foundation partners with Feeding America, the nation’s leading domestic hunger-relief charity. The local Sodexo staff plans to continue with their initiative and is excited to have started both of these partnerships and hope that whatever they can donate will help someone in need.
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