ALMA — Alma College’s move to distance learning in response to the COVID-19 pandemic indirectly led to perishable food going uneaten — food that was originally intended for students living on campus.
Rather than let that food go to waste, it has been donated to various groups and causes in the Alma community.
“During these tough times, it’s about doing what’s right. It’s not only about representing Alma College, it’s about serving the Alma community,” said Burt McAtee, area general manager at Sodexo.
“It’s just a little way of showing our support through the pandemic,” McAtee added. “Just because we can’t use it doesn’t mean someone else shouldn’t benefit from it.”
The college has contracted with the food service company, and its predecessors Saga and Sodexho Marriott Services, for more than 65 years to provide dining services to students.
Among the most prominent ways Alma College dining services has given back, McAtee said, is through the Community Cafe at First Presbyterian Church in Alma.
Under normal circumstances, the cafe is a weekly event where people in need can socialize and enjoy a sit-down meal prepared by volunteers. In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, the café now offers to-go meals.
Sodexo regularly supports the Community Café during the school year and continued to do so during the pandemic.
McAtee said the cafe has come to rely on Alma College to donate meals once a month, a commitment the college kept in April. The college donated meals twice in May.
“The Community Cafe is very near and dear to my heart,” McAtee said. “I’m happy we’re able to keep giving back to this important community resource.”
Alma College dining services has also continued to provide meals to families served by the Baptist Children’s Home in St. Louis, in part thanks to students who have donated meals they have accrued through their college meal plans.
“We don’t have any problem getting students to donate. At Alma, there are a lot of students who are socially minded — we have a lot of people who want to give back,” McAtee said.