Extra cafeteria food donated to homeless

By Jeny Varughese
November 3, 2010

Julia Reavis, food procurer at the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center, accepts a donation from Cabrini College. Dining services, Catholic Social Services, library staff and the lacrosse team have joined together to aid homeless shelters in the area.

Cabrini’s dining services, Sodexo, has been donating food to local food banks since Feb. 2009.

Dining services, along with Catholic Social Services, library staff and the lacrosse team, have been donating food to homeless shelters in the neighboring areas.

“We started this program because it’s the right thing to do,” Drew Neiman, general manager of dining services, said. “The intention was that it would be a partnership and we started with the help of CRS  ambassadors because we wanted student groups to get involved and help get the food there.”

“Sodexo came to us with the idea to have a food drive,” Steven Eberly, coordinator of community partnership, said. “They deliver the leftover food once a week and the library staff also help us with the delivery.”

On average, once a week during the school year, dining services sends out food that can be fed to 25 to 50 people. However, there are foods that can’t be sent out and get thrown out.

“Three times the amount of food thrown out comes back to the dish room from the plates students took,” Neiman said. “Also, if the food isn’t safe it can’t be used. We have to make sure all safety guidelines are met before sending out the food.”

Several factors need to be taken into consideration when it comes to food safety. For example, food that has been left out for more than two hours has to be disposed. Also, foods shouldn’t be reheated more than once.

Some food, depending on the menu, can be utilized for a different meal. However, it can’t be done with other food.

Cabrini is starting a food drive for the Coordinated Homeless Outreach Center. CHOC, a homeless shelter in Norristown, Pa., is a year-round shelter for homeless single adults in Montgomery County.

“We have 50 beds available, outreach program, serve three meals a day, help people transition with housing and run other programs,” Genny O’Donnell, director of CHOC, said. “We run on a really tight budget and don’t have room for a lot. We also serve people on the street.”

CHOC has several facilities available for people including laundry, library and a storage area for anything that doesn’t fit into lockers.

Although CHOC is a 50-bed shelter, 60 to 65 people get served each day and with winter coming more people are being expected. Also, people who live out on the streets are being fed.

“When people move we prepare a bag for them with canned foods to help them get started,” O’Donnell said. “Donations help us to serve the people we wouldn’t be able to if we didn’t have the extra help.”

Other organizations that help CHOC meet their food supply include Community Action Development Commission and Philabundance, through a county grant, and local churches help with painting and ceiling work.

CHOC runs with 30 full/ part-time staff as well as volunteers from different groups and organizations as well as churches around the area.

“In the past Cabrini has worked with the Hospitality Center,” Eberle said. “Due to the change in leadership they are no longer accepting food.”

“Food will be collected from Nov. 1 to Nov. 15 and sent to CHOC in preparation for the holidays,” Eberly said.

Jeny Varughese

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