December 21, 2016

Levy Restaurants Focuses on Fighting Hunger

For many of us, the holidays are a chance to feast with family and friends. For many others, each day begins not knowing where to find their next meal.

As the Convention Authority’s food and beverage partner, Levy Restaurants is doing its part to address the problem of food insecurity year-round.

Levy is partnering with the Mid-Ohio Foodbank, Friends of the Homeless and Faith Mission to provide high-quality food that otherwise would be discarded, says General Manager Daniel Palawasta.

“We’re trying to donate as much usable food as we can that might be available at the end of an event and hasn’t gone out for consumption,” Palawasta says. “Also anything we have in our stocks that’s still packaged – which might be food that is still good but close to an expiration date, or extra food ordered special for a group that we won’t use again.”

Palawasta says Levy has a guiding rule that nothing be thrown out if it can be donated, adding that the size of a facility like the Convention Center means the portion of food available for donations can be significant.

Food products can include everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to canned and packaged products.

“At the end of the year, it probably equates to 20,000 pounds,” Palawasta says.

With more than 100 locations, Levy Restaurants leaves it up to local staffs to determine what causes to support as part of the Levy Cares program. The Foodbank, Friends of the Homeless and Faith Mission were chosen in Columbus because of their reach and ability to address the greatest need, Palawasta says.

Palawasta notes that the entire Levy staff at the Convention Center is on board with this round-the-year emphasis on helping ease food insecurity.

“When you pull back all the layers, food service traditionally has been a stepping stone for careers,” he explains. “A lot of people who work for us are coming back from economic troubles or family troubles and trying to rebuild their professional lives. So we find that we end up hiring temps or employees who may be a step, or two steps, away from needing this kind of assistance themselves.”

In fact no corporate giving program will fulfill its potential without individual effort, he says.

“What is personal to a server or busboy … that’s where we’re going to have the most impact.”

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