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Symbiosis caterers donate truckloads of leftover food to senior center and St. Vincent de Paul

HOLLY SCHOLZ - Redemption House Ministries Operations Manager Lisa Godat, left, and Soroptmist Senior Center head cook Myra Martin sort through the donated food.

The kitchen at the Prineville Soroptmist Senior Center was bursting with leftover food this week after caterers from the Symbiosis event donated a van and a box truck full of food.

"If I had to put a value on it, I'm guessing anywhere from $15,000 to $20,000 worth of food," said Senior Center Coordinator Melody Kendall. "It's overwhelming."

Boxes of bread, fruit, vegetables, desserts, meat, dairy, juice and frozen entrees were donated.

"There were 9,000 eggs," Kendall laughed.

She's not sure why the Symbiosis caterers had so much leftover food, but she willingly accepted it.

"A gentleman called (Tuesday) and said, 'We're the caterers up at the Big Summit event, and we have a large amount of food that needs to go,'" Kendall recalls.

They had called a couple of the other places in town and didn't get any response, so they asked her if they could bring everything to the senior center.

"So they pulled up in a van, and we thought, 'OK, cool,' Kendall said.

They spent about an hour unloading the van, and she commented on how much food there was.

"He said, 'wait 'til the truck gets here,'" Kendall laughed. "It was one of the big box trucks, like a Frito Lay truck, full to the top."

Using carts, they hauled the food into the kitchen area of the senior center and stacked it in high piles for two solid hours Tuesday.

She didn't get their names nor the name of their catering company, but one fellow was from Portland, another from Nashville, Tennessee, and a third was from Nebraska.

"They just donated it, and they kept thanking us," Kendall said, adding that when she thanked them in return, they said, "If you hadn't taken this, we would have taken it to the dump."

Tuesday, the senior center staff either refrigerated or froze many of the items.

"We've kept a lot of stuff that we can use. Our freezer is full, our walk-in is full," said head cook, Myra Martin, adding that she'll most likely switch up the senior center menu to make use of the donations.

She came in at 5 a.m. Wednesday and separated out what could be used for upcoming meals.

"Everything that was left over, we've handed out to our seniors, and we've had a couple families that needed help come in and go through it," Kendall said.

They've distributed food to seniors who frequent the center as well as to her employees and local families.

"Right now, we're down to a lot of vegetables that really need to be taken care of because they're going to go bad. They were on the borderline when they brought them in," Kendall pointed out Wednesday.

She called up St. Vincent de Paul to ask if they'd like to have some of the food, but they had received two truckloads of leftover food from another caterer last week. They were full and couldn't take any more.

She called Redemption House Ministries, which oversees a women's shelter and a café, and Lisa Godat, the operations manager, came by Wednesday afternoon and loaded up on bread, bagels, vegetables and noodles.

"It'll be used for Craig's Café, and I know a couple other places," Godat said, adding that she knows of a couple of churches that provide sack lunches to homeless people. She also plans to let Craig's Compassionate Café folks take what they need.

"I've been doing this since last week because St. Vincent's got a big truckload last week, and they called me, so I did like four car loads that day, trying to help them utilize all the food so it didn't go bad," Godat said. "I've just been running around. I'm trying to share the love."

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