|Graduate Jennifer Smith-Hollett, connected Los Olivos and the Pomona Valley Christian Center so the cafeteria could donate food to needy families.|
As Cal Poly Pomona students finish their dinners, the Los Olivos Commons buffet table is filled with uneaten barbeque hot dogs, hamburgers and corn on the cob. Across town, a newly displaced family settles into their motel room for the night without a meal.
To bridge this disparity, Cal Poly Pomona graduate Jennifer Smith-Hollett, connected Los Olivos and the Pomona Valley Christian Center so the cafeteria could donate food to needy families.
“We have a commitment to the university to not waste any food,” says Patrick McCoy, Los Olivos' general manager, “We donate when there is extra food available and when the opportunity arises.”
Smith-Hollett, a political science major, chose food donation to complete her service learning project for her nonviolence studies minor. “All men are brothers” was the project's theme, and the economic crisis inspired her to put this idea into motion.
In her political science class, Smith-Hollett was influenced by a lecture about how lacking resources, such as food, is a major cause of conflict.
“I was inspired by this lecture and the project's theme to take action and feed people who face the harsh reality of hunger,” she says.
In March, Smith-Hollett contacted McCoy and asked whether he had food to donate.
“During my involvement in the project, Los Olivos contributed to the center three times. A single donation fed about 200 people,” she says.
One opportunity arose when 14 cases of yogurt remained uneaten. To avoid waste, McCoy contacted the Christian center's donation director, Pamela Lynn, who collected the food and gave it to needy families.
While giving food to those less fortunate can help tremendously, many people hesitate in fear of lawsuits if someone becomes ill. However, the Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act protects donors from liability granted that the food appears safe for consumption.
In these economic times many families are in dire need.
“I received a referral for a family who was placed in a motel for the evening with nothing to eat,” Lynn says. “Cal Poly called me and said they had food from a barbeque they would like to donate.
“The great thing was it could be ready to eat without a need for a kitchen. The donation was a blessing for the family that night.”