Sodexo Dining Services will aim to fight childhood hunger through its annual Food Frenzy event.
Food Frenzy, which has existed for roughly 10 years, is a charity event that incorporates foods from Sodexo and outside vendors to create an all-you-can-eat food buffet that costs a donation of $3. All donations from the event benefit the BackPack Program for The Food Bank of the Southern Tier. Outside vendors include farms, bakeries, coffee companies and several others, Jeff Scott, the Sodexo general manager, said.
“It’s really a food show,” Scott said. “It’s an opportunity for us to hopefully connect the whole community with different food stations and with different things that we’re either serving here or thinking about serving here.”
This year’s Food Frenzy will be from 11:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., Oct. 1 in Emerson Suites. Dining Services will be looking for student feedback at the event and encourages students to make suggestions when tasting food Sodexo currently does or doesn’t offer. There will be comment cards available.
The BackPack Program has served 41 school districts during the 2014–15 school year in Broome, Chemung, Schuyler, Steuben, Tioga and Tompkins counties, according to the Food Bank’s website. A total of 85,056 packs were distributed throughout the year, with 2,849 children receiving packs each week, according to the website.
The BackPack Program provides nonperishable foods to sustain children over the weekend, Jennifer Edger, community programs manager of the Food Bank, said.
“These are children that typically are receiving free or reduced meals in school,” Edger said. “For those children that are food insecure, backpacks provide a little stress reliever for them and fill their bellies for the weekend.”
Roughly 38,000 children, or about 50 percent, of the children in the six counties that the BackPack Program serves come from families whose income levels qualify them for free or reduced meals, Edger said.
Edger said the program has been overwhelmingly successful and is helpful for both the child’s mental health and physical strength.
“What I feel like the BackPack Program does is set the child up for success,” Edger said. “They don’t have worries about food, which is such a basic need, and are set up to learn.”
The Food Bank receives donations from events like the Wegman’s-sponsored “Fill the Bus;” phonathons; grants; “Walkin’ the Country,” done by radio personality Chris Allinger; and fundraisers performed by other organizations, Edger said.
Dining Services hopes to beat its goal of raising $5,000 for the BackPack Program, which would fill 1,666 backpacks.
This year’s Food Frenzy theme is “mindful.” Mindful, which is Sodexo’s standard for healthy food, follows a wide array of categories to meet the nutritional criteria based on the Dietary Guidelines for Americans. Sodexo’s chefs follow these guidelines to create nutritious dining options for students.
“There’s more of an effort by service providers to make it easier to understand the healthy choices, find the healthy choices, and in some cases educate folks who aren’t up to speed,” Scott said.
Dining Services also allows and encourages student involvement with the event.
“It’s a neat opportunity to engage in an informal atmosphere with the community as well as continuing to support the BackPack Program, which is hunger relief efforts for school-age children,” Scott said.
Students can donate to the BackPack Program prior to Food Frenzy at IC Square Food Court, SubConnection, Circles Market and all campus dining cafes and keep their receipt as their ticket into the show. Students can also donate at the door of the event.