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Purdue Organizations Partner to Serve Lafayette Homeless Community

Purdue organizations are partnering with a local community center to provide meals for the homeless.

The university’s chapter of Timmy Global Health, along with Purdue Dining & Catering, have teamed with Lafayette Transitional Housing Center (LTHC) to help provide food for homeless families. Leftover food from The Gathering Place, located on the ground floor of Meredith Hall, will be packaged and transported to LTHC by Timmy volunteers twice a week.

The amount of food transported from The Gathering Place to LTHC is expected to vary based on its customer traffic. The Gathering Place provides enough food for 200 meals nightly Monday – Thursday every week. Food pickups will take place on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. The first food pickup resulted in 109 pounds of food being transported to LTHC.

“We’re always looking for opportunities to be involved in helping with food insecurity,” said Greg Minner, Director of Dining & Catering. “The students of Timmy Global Health understood there was a need and we were able to work with them and LTHC to figure out how we can help. I think donating leftover food from The Gathering Place is a perfect opportunity for us to address food insecurity in our community.”


Volunteers gathering leftover food

Plans to donate leftover food were initially hatched by Purdue student Will Austin in February 2016. Austin, now a junior, recalled the seed of the project being planted when he noticed students disposing of untouched food in the dining halls.

“It bothered me that people were still going hungry, right here in our local community, when there was excess, nutritious food on our campus,” said Austin, who currently serves as director of community service for Purdue’s chapter of Timmy Global Health.

Additional inspiration came in the form of articles Austin read about the Food Recovery Network, a non-profit student movement against food waste and hunger in America. Austin, along with Yumin Gao, integrated Food Recovery Network principles within Purdue’s chapter of Timmy to put plans for food donation in place.


Volunteers help to prepare meals

After pursuing several different avenues with Purdue Dining & Catering, the plan to transport food from The Gathering Place was agreed upon and the organizations forged their partnership with LTHC. Purdue sophomore Gabe Opsahl, new to the project this year, has provided valuable work as liaison with LTHC, ensuring the transport and storage of food meets the organization’s needs.

“Since day one in February 2016, this initiative has always been about providing food to those in need,” said Austin. “By donating our excess food to LTHC, we, as the Purdue community, are directly contributing towards LTHC’s mission of helping those in need in our West Lafayette and Lafayette communities. By donating our excess food, we are collectively fighting food inequity in America.”

Numerous details regarding the transport and storage of food had to be resolved to comply with food safety standards before meals could begin to be served. This included labeling food and providing lists of ingredients, as well as acquiring sanitary food storage items for transport. All Timmy volunteers must also take and pass a food safety course to be involved with the project. Timmy volunteers will be responsible for storing and transporting the food. Members of Timmy hope to expand the organization’s food donation efforts in the future.


Volunteers

“This is another way that LTHC and Purdue students have developed a relationship that is mutually beneficial,” said Jennifer Layton, LTHC Executive Director. “I am so impressed with the work of the students to make this food recovery opportunity happen. There are many in our community who are food insecure and certainly the homeless population is at the top of that list. LTHC is looking forward to sharing the bounty of Purdue with our guests.”

LTHC’s mission is to end homelessness by getting people into housing. Through its Homeless Services Program, LTHC serves individuals and families who are actively homeless. While working on their housing stability plan with case managers, they have access to basic need services such as showers, laundry and meals. LTHC is open 365 days a year and serves three meals each day. In fiscal year 2017, LTHC served more than 30,000 meals in this program.

Purdue’s chapter of Timmy Global Health, founded in 2004, was one of the first chapters of the organization to be founded. Timmy’s mission is to expand access to healthcare and empower students to tackle global health challenges. The Purdue chapter of Timmy Global sponsors advocacy events on campus, seeks to grow service opportunities in the Lafayette area and continue international efforts to serve global health firsthand.

Purdue Dining & Catering’s missions is to nourish and inspire the Purdue community. The organization embraces a focus on co-curricular education and leadership development as an integral part of the Purdue experience.