UVA Dining is donating perishable foods from its dining halls to local charities and food banks.
In reaction to the COVID-19 virus pandemic, the University of Virginia has suspended in-person courses and shifted to online learning. Since the vast majority of students are studying from home, most on-Grounds food service outlets are closed.
David Mason, the district executive chef for UVA Dining (operated by Aramark), said he didn't want perishable products to go to waste.
On Wednesday, UVA Dining delivered perishable food items to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, The Haven, The Salvation Army, Loaves and Fishes Food Pantry and the Food Pantry for Fauquier County through 4P Foods, which acquired the Local Food Hub’s distribution operations.
“All foods were sorted into individual donations and care was taken to ensure that each agency received a balanced delivery that was specifically selected for their needs,” Mason said.
“The University is grateful to its Aramark partner for its generous donation of food to local area relief agencies,” said Colette Sheehy, senior vice president for operations at the University. “We know there are many in our community in need of assistance during this unprecedented public health emergency and we are pleased that UVA Dining Services reached out to help our neighbors.”
This will be the first of several donations, Mason said. UVA Dining is still assessing its inventory. He said that he is in discussion with local charities about their needs and determining what is available to donate. He said that UVA Dining is freezing and preserving foods as much as possible, for later use.
“This is an ongoing effort,” Mason said. “We are making a survey of what we have on the shelves and acting responsibly.”
During the school year, UVA Dining keeps several days inventory of food and products, which are constantly replenished from its vendors. Mason said once decisions were made on closing facilities, additional deliveries were curtailed.
As there is still a limited number of students on Grounds, Observatory Hill Dining Hall, Crossroads Food Court and Convenience Store, and Einstein Bros. Bagels at the UVA Bookstore remain open indefinitely – for take-out only, Mason said.
“Observatory Hill remains open to anyone with a meal plan, and the other outlets are retail facilities,” Mason said.
Mason has not yet made any calculations about the monetary value of the food donations, which have included fresh fruits and vegetables, already prepared fruit salad, potatoes, onions and cheeses.