Demonstrating Geneva's Heart
BY BETHANY SNYDER
Campus was quiet this summer, but the kitchen at Scandling Campus Center was alive with activity. The Colleges hosted food preparation for the Boys & Girls Club of Geneva, providing more than 70,000 hot meals to local families during the COVID-19 crisis.
The partnership between the Boys & Girls Club, the Colleges and Sodexo was established several years ago, with Sodexo making the food and the club staff taking it to their location to package and deliver. When demand from local families soared due to the pandemic, Executive Director Christopher N. Lavin ’81 knew there had to be a more efficient way to manage the increased production.
“One of our great worries was the kids counting on us for food,” Lavin says. The club has always been a source of food for the community — serving about 60 lunches a day for children in grades 1–3 and an additional 120 dinners a night for those in grades 4–12. With schools and the club closed, that resource was gone.
“We asked if we could bring our part of the operation to campus,” Lavin says. “And the Colleges said, ‘the door’s open, come on in.’ If food is an act of love, this town, gown and regional effort has been a real demonstration of Geneva’s heart.”
Lavin’s staff — led by Assistant Executive Director Allauna Overstreet-Gibson ’14 — arrived at Scandling Campus Center at 3 p.m. each day and by 6 p.m. had delivered hundreds of hot and healthy meals all over Geneva.
With support from donors and local organizations such as Freihofer’s Baking Co., the Mother Cabrini Health Foundation, the Wyckoff Family Foundation, Inc., Bella’s NY Kitchen and Cornell University’s Dairy Plant, the group produced, plated and delivered meals to Geneva families between March and August.
“Adding good food into a home was a very effective economic boost to the family,” Lavin explains. “Not only did it take away the cost of food, but it allowed us to put a high-quality meal on the table.” Each Sodexo-prepared meal included a protein, grain, vegetable and milk. He estimates that the meals saved a family of four close to $600 a month on food costs.
Lavin is grateful to the professionals at Sodexo and to his alma mater for expanding the operation, but not surprised. “HWS opens its doors to the community in every way,” he says. “It’s in the Colleges’ DNA.”