ASK THE EXPERT: Food is one of the greatest costs of any event, and is the most perishable. So what happens to all the leftover food after a banquet or other large event?
The South Park Inn provides services to the homeless
in Hartford and welcomes the food donations from
The Society Room of Hartford.
Local Venues Give Back to the Community
When it comes to donating leftover food, there are different kinds of leftovers: the raw ingredients that didn’t get used, the food that wasn’t eaten and is still on guest’s plates, and food that was cooked but not served. Raw ingredients can be used in other recipes, and leftover, half eaten food is thrown away for health reasons. However, cooked but unserved food from several area venues is frequently donated to area shelters and food pantries. Even though cooked food is considered “perishable”, as long as it is properly wrapped and refrigerated, many community programs welcome the donation. These food recovery programs don’t put the donor at any risk from getting sued. Thanks to the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act of 1996, donors are protected “from civil and criminal liability should the product donated in good faith later cause harm to the recipient,” except for cases of “gross negligence or intentional misconduct.”
For example, The Society Room of Hartford has donated leftover food to South Park Inn in Hartford, and Billings Forge uses their leftover food for their community programs. Keep in mind that agreements need to set up beforehand between the charity and the venue about the food donations, so expectations regarding packaging, refrigeration, trucking, etc., are mutually agreed upon. If you’re a venue looking for a food pantry in your area, search the directory at Ample Harvest.
On a different slant to giving back to the community, the owners of The Riverview in Simsbury hosts and picks up all the costs for four charitable events each year, one at each of their four properties. Each event is for a cause that is meaningful to the owners and provides great opportunities for the organization to get their story told as well as fundraising. The Interval House in Hartford has their April event at The Riverview, The Candlewood Inn in Brookfield sponsors a St. Patrick’s Day Party for Danbury Hospice, the Fox Hill Inn in Brookfield hosts an event each February for the Danbury Women’s Center, and The Waterview in Monroe does an event in June for Newtown Hospice Care. Over 1400 meals are donated.
Billings Forge hosts a variety of community programs,
including culinary training.
Being a nonprofit itself, Billings Forge has several community programs centered around food, starting with their cafes and catering business (Their Firebox Restaurant is Zagat rated). They also train 20 people a year who have multiple barriers to employment (past incarceration, homelessness) in the culinary arts and help them become employed. A year-long farmers market which doubles people’s food vouchers for healthy food, plus family and youth programs round out their civic contributions.
It’s nice to know that there are lots of good things happening “behind the scenes” at local venues, generous in-kind donations that aren’t publicly heralded, but greatly appreciated by all the deserving groups who try to help those in need. Thank you!
Note: Special thanks to Jessica Correia of The Society Room of Hartford, Maureen Huntley of The Riverview, and Cary Wheaton of Billings Forge for their contributions to this article and the community.