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Grub club feeds Wacoans, reduces waste

Sept. 10, 2003

By Jenny Felske, reporter

Two Baylor students are looking for volunteers to join Grub, a food salvage organization they created to help feed Waco's poor.

After researching food-donating programs at Stanford University, Kayla Lane, a Spring junior, and Heather Oldham, a Belton junior, decided that Baylor should follow suit.

Lane and Oldham contacted Baylor's dining service, Aramark, with an idea to reduce waste while contributing to the community.

Grub was born after Lane and Oldham met with Baylor's dining hall directors and Caritas, an organization that provides emergency food assistance to people in need.

The Grub system involves pick-ups of leftover food at Penland, Memorial and Collins dining halls on Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays. Each pick-up requires volunteers to load food onto refrigerated Caritas trucks.

Caritas re-packages the food and gives it away in the Caritas soup kitchen or to more than 30 agencies and after-school programs.

Although the dining halls continue to develop ways to waste less food - like the trend of exhibition cooking where food is made to order - Aramark will allow Lane and Oldham to salvage any additional leftovers.

'This is a great idea and we want to support it,' Linda Ricks, Aramark's market program manager, said. After conferring with Aramark and Caritas, Lane and Oldham chose an adviser they knew would be supportive.

Jeff Fish, an assistant professor in the classics department, readily agreed to assist in advising the organization, promoting awareness and encouraging student participation.

'I was inspired to help them,' Fish said. 'These girls saw a need and did not wait for someone else to take care of it.'

Workers at Caritas also are grateful for Lane and Oldham's initiative.'We've been trying to set up something for years with Baylor,' Sally Norlie, a Caritas representative, said. 'Caritas already has a similar system set up with Providence Healthcare Network, but any extra help is appreciated, even just to come and sit with the people.'

More food always is needed for the several hundred Wacoans who pass through Caritas daily. Most people seeking food assistance are not homeless or in extreme poverty - they are financially stable enough to pay their bills but have little money left over to feed the family.

Both Lane and Oldham stressed this procedure as a sanitary way to donate food. Caritas workers always use gloves and hairnets when handling the food, and they refrigerate perishable items.

Fish said he hopes Grub will become an official organization and continue even after Lane and Oldham leave Baylor.

Volunteers can sign up for pick-up at a Grub interest meeting 7 p.m. today at Fountain Mall. For volunteer opportunities or information about Caritas, call 753-4593 or visit www.Caritas-waco.org.