Helping the community: UAF Dining Services aids local soup kitchen

Ian Larsen/Sun Star Reporter
Jan. 31, 2012

Early morning on Thursday, Jan 26, 2011, Fairbanks residents pour into the Stone Soup Cafe to enjoy a hot breakfast and cup of coffee to cut the cold. These Fairbanks residents will now be enjoying donated food from the UAF Catering Service surplus foods at the end of each day. Erin McGroarty / Sun Star

With the start of the new semester, UAF’s food services began donating leftover food to the Stone Soup Café, a soup kitchen in Fairbanks. The donations are made on a daily basis when there are leftovers available and cooks to prepare them.

The Lola Tilly commons, Wood Center, Catering services and other parts of NANA management are participating in the donation program.

The Stone Soup Café is a public-donation-only soup kitchen. Because of this, the cafe is currently only able to serve breakfast, bag lunches and the occasional dinner to those in need.

“If we get more food donations coming in, we can start serving actual lunches and dinner more often,” Dan Reeves said. Reeves is the manager of the Stone Soup Café.

“We serve around 200 people a day,” Reeves said. “Any food we get is definitely helpful. I know UAF can’t donate food every single day, but hopefully with their attempt to donate on a daily basis we’ll start seeing more in the near future.”

“Donations were occurring intermittently around the end of last semester,” UAF Catering Services Manager Mary Mitchell said. “Now we are beginning to donate food on a daily basis, when extra food is available. Any extra prepared food for catering jobs is donated at the end of the day, carrots, greens, et cetera.”

Mitchell had been the Stone Soup Café manager in 2008, and introduced the donation idea after being hired onto the UAF staff in 2011. 

“It’s definitely a good operation we have going now, we waste a lot less food and help out the community,” Mitchell said.

“When ever there is an overabundance of food prepared for a catering event, or at the other dining facilities, we send it over to the soup kitchen,” Dining Services Director of Board Operations Lisa Kennedy said. “The other day we donated an extra 50 prepared pork chops to the kitchen.”

Although most of the Dining Services board members were keen of the idea of food donations, it took some discussion to make sure everything went according to plan.

“After the recent switch in management, there was some concern about food preparation liability, but because of the Good Samaritan Act we are able to donate without fear of being sued,” Mitchell said.

According to the Good Samaritan Act of 1990, as long as the food donated meets federal, state and local laws, or the receiving party is informed of bad quality, the donator cannot be held liable for any incident.

With all the UAF food services in agreement with the donation operation, the final stage of approval was with the cooks.

“The cooks play an instrumental role in donation,” Mitchell said. “They are the ones that have to change their protocol, and prepare the extra food at the end of the day, so it is really their call, they are such great sports about the idea it’s wonderful.”

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