Published May 27, 2010
The general manager of campus services at Georgia State University calls it “a meaningful partnership.”
It’s the very practical way that he and his co-workers, with the help of the Georgia State Catholic Student Association, are redirecting unused campus food items to the St. Francis Table soup kitchen at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception.
Ken Wesolowski said about four years ago at the close of business on Friday his team found themselves with a large number of leftover sandwiches from a catered function at the university.
“We put our heads together to see what could be done with this food to benefit those in need as it would be such a waste to throw it out,” he wrote in a recent article for his company, Sodexo, which provides the food service for the university.
Because a staff member had often seen people standing outside the nearby Shrine in the morning waiting for food, they got in touch with Brian Anthony, coordinator of St. Francis Table, who said he would be very grateful for any donations. The boxes of sandwiches were carted down the street to the Shrine kitchen, located in the basement of the church. St. Francis Table provides a meal every Saturday morning and distributes food to the hungry all the time.
“Over the next year we managed to sporadically get food to the St. Francis Table in a rather hit and miss manner,” Wesolowski wrote. But “schedules of the individuals at the church and our business schedule didn’t allow for successful coordination and food was wasted due to these timing issues.”
So he contacted the GSU Catholic Student Association to see if students could assist in getting the food to the church on Friday afternoons. Through the efforts of Rudy Schlosser, Catholic campus minister, an arrangement was set up for volunteers to deliver food to the Shrine kitchen regularly and have access after staff left.
“Through the commitment and efforts of some wonderful individuals we have been able to successfully get donations to the St. Francis Table on Fridays so they could be utilized for the 600 to 700 individuals they serve on Saturday mornings. This pickup and delivery schedule has been the regimen on Fridays for the last couple of years,” Wesolowski wrote.
The GSU staff have initiated creative ways to ensure that food is collected from campus venues and brought to the main campus kitchen in a timely manner on Fridays so it can be packed up for Catholic student volunteers to transport. Some have devised new ways to box the food for secure transport. The boxes and pans of food are loaded on carts and left where Schlosser and his volunteers have easy access to them when they arrive. They then walk them to the Shrine.
Schlosser said the university effort provides a significant amount of donated food for St. Francis Table.
“The great thing is the university does not waste food that is prepared by the cafeteria,” he said.
“We’ve been doing this for almost three years now.”
In addition to large numbers of sandwiches and bagels, there is often hot food, he said, like pizza and trays of spaghetti and meatballs or macaroni and cheese, and fruit, salads and desserts. When the university hosts a social event during the week that leads to a second donation that week, Schlosser said.
“When I am on vacation, we make arrangements with someone else, so we really, really try not to waste food,” he said.
Wesolowski wrote, “Through a coordinated effort by members of our staff, the Georgia State University student volunteers, and the St. Francis Table staff, we have managed to efficiently coordinate this process to maximize its potential for those less fortunate individuals in our immediate area. It has been a rewarding experience for all involved.”
Rudy Schlosser, Catholic campus minister at Georgia State University, can be contacted via Facebook or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Father Stephen Lyness is Catholic chaplain at Georgia State. Mass is celebrated at Georgia State at 12:15 p.m. Monday through Thursday. On Sunday, students are encouraged to take part in the 11 a.m. Mass at the Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, 48 Martin Luther King Jr. Drive, S.W., Atlanta.