Busch Gardens Tests Program to Donate Surplus Food to Grove Food Pantries

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Busch Gardens CaresBusch Gardens has recently partnered up with Grove Christian Outreach Center to donate more than 4,000 pounds of food to local food pantries.

The Grove Christian Outreach Center serves the Grove neighborhood – one of the closest residential areas to Busch Gardens.

Grove is currently designated by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as a food desert due to low income levels and lack of access to healthy affordable foods at a nearby grocery store.

The initiative is part of the park’s pilot program currently testing the feasibility of donating much of its surplus fresh, frozen and packaged food items to the Center. The initial donation included fresh produce and dairy, as well as packaged food.

Lindsey Mair, a buyer for Busch Gardens’ culinary department and a volunteer at the outreach center, is leading the new initiative.

“Our intent is to put our surplus food to good use and not let it go to waste,” Mair said.

Fear of waste is a real concern, as much of the donated food, particularly the fresh produce and dairy, will reach its expiration date before the park opens for the 2016 season.

Other food donation opportunities are expected to arise throughout the year, particularly upon the conclusion of large-scale park events like the transition between the summer operating season to Howl-o-Scream and from Howl-O-Scream to Christmas Town, Mair said.

“The food Busch Gardens is donating will enhance our ability to meet our goal of reducing hunger and food insecurity in the Grove community and to meet the food needs of the families we serve each month,” said Pat McCormick, executive director of the Grove Outreach Center. “We are pleased that Busch Gardens will be a community partner in helping in the fight against hunger in our community.”