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Delaware North gives back with food donations, free military meals, community dinners

As the United States prepares to celebrate Thanksgiving this week, Delaware North locations have demonstrated their appreciation for their communities by giving back and making a positive impact for those in need. Through food donation programs, complimentary meals for the armed forces, holiday dinners for community organizations and more, Delaware North associates are living the Core Value of “Do Right” this Thanksgiving. Here is a sampling of how Delaware North is giving back:

Comerica Park food donation program helps Detroit’s neediest

Delaware North Sportservice at Comerica Park has been slowly building a food donation program that has become an important asset for more than a dozen charitable organizations in the counties surrounding Detroit. Detroit’s tri-county area suffers from a severe food hardship, with more than one in two children being at risk for hunger. Delaware North’s food donation program, which began in 2009, involves “rescuing” unused food from the ballpark, which goes to help supply food banks, pantries and soup kitchens. Since the program began, more than 170,000 meals have been donated from food at Comerica Park.

The program was started by Jim Bastas, Delaware North’s commissary manager at the ballpark, and is a partnership with local agency Forgotten Harvest. Forgotten Harvest is metro Detroit’s only food rescue operation and has become America’s largest, rescuing over 45 million pounds a year of surplus, prepared and perishable food. The agency rescues food from an array of donors across the food service industry in the area, with donors including grocery stores, farms, distributors, restaurants, caterers and entertainment venues such as Comerica Park.

At the conclusion of every Comerica Park event, concession associates bring down excess or spoilage food from their stand or portable to the commissary to have their product descriptions and inventory counts verified against a “spoilage report” form. Once the numbers are checked and considered accurate by the commissary team the data is entered into a stand sheet. The associates then package and sort the food into storage containers supplied by Forgotten Harvest. The containers are stacked on a pallet, shrink wrapped and then stored in the main walk-in cooler. Forgotten Harvest is provided a Tigers schedule for ease of pickup.

Once the rescued food reaches Forgotten Harvest, it is sorted and packaged in readyto-eat meal packs by a host of volunteers who keep the warehouse facility humming six days a week. Among the numerous pallets of food containers stored in the warehouse, a couple stand out from the rest. One is a pallet containing 600 pounds of potatoes and an aisle consisting of 18 enormous bags of beans (each bag weighing 2,200 pounds) ready to be distributed to the various food relief partners.

The Sportservice team at Comerica Park finds the two-fold benefits of the program – feeding the needy and cutting down on waste – to be very rewarding and worth the extra efforts on a game day.

TD Garden hosts annual Table of Friends event

Garden Neighborhood Charities, the philanthropic arm of TD Garden, officially kicked off the holiday season with its annual community event, “Table of Friends.” For more than two decades, Garden Neighborhood Charities has served more than 13,000 hot meals, donated more than $70,000 and has helped hundreds of area homeless move beyond shelter into permanent housing through its support of Friends of Boston’s Homeless and the City of Boston’s Housing First initiative.

This annual event focuses on both the immediate and long-term support for Boston area homeless. Through this year’s Table of Friends, Garden Neighborhood Charities and its volunteers satisfied the most immediate needs by donating thousands of personal care items (socks, gloves and toothbrushes) to guests at the event. Additional items will be donated back to Friends of Boston’s Homeless and distributed to shelters. In an effort to support the more long-term needs, a $5,000 cash donation was made and ear-marked toward the Housing Start-up Fund, which provides individuals with the independence to move into their own homes and the dignity to furnish that home with the essentials.

This event brings together volunteers from TD Garden, the Boston Bruins and the Boston Celtics and many officials from the city and state. With the support of these great volunteers and Delaware North Sportservice, which operates the arena’s food, beverage and retail services, this event provides 700 pounds of turkey, 500 pounds of stuffing, 350 pounds of vegetables, 10 gallons of cranberry sauce and a custom-made 500-pound pumpkin pie that provides a full Thanksgiving spread for Boston’s largest Thanksgiving dinner.

Though “Table of Friends” began in 1995 to open the doors of TD Garden to members of the community, Garden Neighborhood Charities continues to expand its reach beyond the four walls of the arena.

Travel division offers free meals to military on Thanksgiving Day

To show appreciation for their service in protecting America, Delaware North’s travel division this year made plans to provide a free meal to active-duty members of the military who are traveling through the airport on Thanksgiving Day.

On Thanksgiving Day, active-duty military members will receive a free entrée and beverage at more than 150 participating restaurants in 18 airports where Delaware North operates food and beverage outlets in the United States.

“We are always thankful for our servicemen and servicewomen who work all year round to protect our country,” said Kevin Kelly, president of Delaware North’s travel division. “It’s important for us to show our appreciation to our military, especially if they are traveling during this holiday season.”

Wheeling Island Donates Turkeys For Thanksgiving

Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack is helping feed local families this holiday season with a charitable donation of more than 400 frozen turkeys to the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley, Wheeling Health Right, the Wheeling Soup Kitchen and Catholic Charities of West Virginia.

All organizations will provide hot meals for local families and seniors in and around Ohio County this week for the Thanksgiving holiday. The United Way, Catholic Charities, the Wheeling Soup Kitchen and Wheeling Health Right are all previous year’s recipients of Wheeling Island’s holiday food donations.

Each year, Wheeling Island purchases frozen turkeys as a gift for each of its associates. To help others in need, some Wheeling Island associates chose to donate their turkey. Additionally, Wheeling Island purchases frozen turkeys for the sole purpose of donating the food to local charities during the holidays. This year, Wheeling Island has also donated a turkey to each Wheeling Fire Department station to thank those who will be working on the holiday.

Jumer’s contributes unused food for local meal sites

Jumer’s Casino & Hotel takes its social responsibility very seriously and is always looking for ways to assist the community. One area it has always been active in is assisting those in need, specifically through food drives or direct contributions to shelters.

This year, the food and beverage team at Jumer’s reached out to a local food donation agency for guidance on how to donate unused food. Through that connection with the agency, Christian Care in Rock Island, Ill., the team has been able to donate food items that would have otherwise been thrown away.

Christian Care picks up any unused food from the casino and uses it for one of its meal sites that assists the needy. To date, Christian Care has made 18 pickups with a total of 4,419 pounds of donated food. “The partnership created between Christian Care, a non-profit rescue mission, and Jumer’s Casino & Hotel has been a blessing,” said Franklin Roe, the agency’s executive director. “We have a meal site where last year we served 47,000 hot meals to any man, woman or child needing our service. The weekly donations, allow us to create balanced nutritional meals. I want to personally thank everyone involved for helping serve the least the last and the lost.”

Jumer’s also partners with Rock and Wrap it Up! to donate meals and unused food to River Bend Foodbank. To date it has recovered 6,334 pounds of food. This translates to 5,278 meals.

Rock and Wrap It Up! is a multi-faceted, award-winning anti-poverty organization providing assets to the needy and is also an advocate for veterans. 

?In addition to the ongoing partnership with Christian Care and River Bend Foodbank, Jumer’s recently made a contribution to the United Way of the Quad Cities area for its Hygiene Drive. This was supported by associates who contributed items, along with items from the hotel housekeeping department. The housekeeping department will donate partial rolls of toilet paper and partially used bottles of conditioner and shampoo to The Salvation Army throughout the year.