Grant helps feed the hungry in the Wabash Valley

June 27 2007

TERRE HAUTE, Ind. -- Hunger doesn’t take a vacation. Feeding centers in the Wabash Valley are benefiting from a grant received by Sodexho at Indiana State University Dining Services from the Sodexho Foundation.

The $20,000 grant is providing food to Terre Haute’s Second Harvest affiliate, Catholic Charities, which is dispersing it to its 18 local feeding centers.

Terre Haute is one of 18 cities participating in the Feeding Our Future program, run by the Sodexho Foundation.

“It is the first city of its size to participate in the program,” said Shondra Jenkins, Sodexho Community Relations. Other cities involved in the program, launched in 1997, include Atlanta, Chicago, Boston, Detroit, Nashville and St. Louis.

Ray Veit, director of Dining Halls for Sodexho at Indiana State, was approached by the Foundation about participating in this program. His response was an immediate yes.

“I was delighted just that there was a possibility of Terre Haute and ISU participating in this worthwhile program,” Veit added.

Veit then contacted John Etling and Catholic Charities with the news.

“It was unexpected, but very welcome news,” Etling said, “I was so excited for our agencies.”

Veit and Etling, a 1983 graduate of Indiana State, met to determine the quantity and variety of items to order and to arrange a delivery schedule.

“We couldn’t have secured this grant without the support of John and Catholic Charities. With their assistance, everything just fell into place,” Veit said.

As part of Feeding Our Future, roughly $4,000 in non-perishable products was delivered to Indiana State in five deliveries. Those deliveries were supplemented by a vendor partner match of an additional $3,000 of goods. Catholic Charities picked up the donations and distributed them to its centers, located in three counties, to be used during a 12-week period which began June 4.

“The amount of food picked up by Catholic Charities at each drop is staggering. $4,000 is the wholesale cost. It’s a much larger amount than if you went into a big box store and purchased $4,000 in non-perishables,” Veit said.

“For Etling, agency director for Catholic Charities, the 24,663 pounds of food items -- a little more than two tons -- have been a blessing.

“We appreciate the generosity of Sodexho and their willingness to step up to the plate and help fight hunger,” Etling said.

According to the United Nations World Food Program and the 2006 report FAO State of Food Insecurity in the World, every five seconds a child dies from hunger.

“That’s just staggering,” Etling lamented.

“If we all did a little bit we wouldn’t have hunger,” he added.

Sue Sluyter, Dining Services general manager for Sodexho, said the grant is just one more way Dining Service employees and ISU students fight hunger in the community. One-third of the group’s 200 employees donate to the foundation through payroll deduction and Indiana State students contributed $1,500 to the foundation through specially-marked goodies sold in the dining halls.

“Our employees are very excited to be a part of this. They contribute to this cause and enjoy seeing the fruits of their labor helping others locally,” she said.

Roughly 70 pounds of surplus food items are picked up daily by Catholic Charities from Indiana State’s dining facilities to help with local feeding programs, soup kitchens, and food pantries. Those daily donations added up to more than 22,000 pounds of food in 2006, according to Veit.

For Etling, Indiana State’s actions make him proud.

“It makes me extremely proud to see my alma mater reaching out to those who need it,” he beamed.

According to Veit, Indiana State’s contributions are impressive and only a smaller portion of a much larger effort.

Since 1999, the Sodexho Foundation has contributed more than $7 million to hunger-related organizations while Sodexho has contributed another $16 million in in-kind donations.

“As the nation’s leading food service provider to public schools throughout this country, we see first hand the importance of helping to ensure that children have access to free meals each summer,” said Stephen J. Brady, president of the Sodexho Foundation.

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Contact: Sue Sluyter, Dining Services general manager for Sodexho at Indiana State, (812)237-4138

Writer: Paula Meyer, ISU Communications & Marketing, (812) 237-3783 or pmeyer4@isugw.indstate.edu

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Story Highlights

Hunger doesn’t take a vacation. Feeding centers in the Wabash Valley are benefiting from a grant received by Sodexho at Indiana State University Dining Services from the Sodexho Foundation.

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