Windsor Locks schools serves Thanksgiving meal for shelter residents

During last month’s snowstorm, many Northeast communities were left damaged and without power, including Windsor Locks, Conn. For the week after the storm, Windsor Locks High Schools and its foodservice provider, Sodexo, served more than 1,800 meals to the residents who were using the school as a shelter.

“Windsor Locks High School was our hub base because it was the only school that had a generator,” said Dave Mensher, general manager for Sodexo at the district. “We are licensed in the state to be a shelter. We picked up food [from other schools] because we had no power in the other schools and we wanted to save the food. That’s how it started.”

Mensher said with the abundance of food coming into the high school from the other schools in the district, he and his supervisor had enough food to plan a three-meals-a-day menu for the residents and volunteers.

“We had to staff [the shelter],” Mensher said. “It was difficult because all the landline phones were down. Cell phones weren’t working because people didn’t have chargers and they were running out of power. We got a skeleton crew together.”

Mensher and the district’s superintendent, Wayne Sweeney, noticed on Tuesday that the residents needed a morale booster, so they decided to turn to food and create a pre-Thanksgiving day meal.

“Mr. Sweeney came up to me and said, ‘Simsbury—a community right outside of Windsor Locks—had an executive chef who donated these lobster ravioli and he’s doing some big shindig for the shelter.’ I absorbed it and then went, wait a minute. We needed to do something because of what was thrown at us [with the storm] and what these people were facing. Thanksgiving was around the corner and I said let’s get some comfort food and do a really nice holiday meal. Luckily I had turkeys in the house because we were serving turkeys to the school district in a week or so. We did all the trimmings and had decorations up already.”

One of the women who stayed in the shelter was so impressed by the staff’s efforts, she wrote a letter to the local newspaper, the Journal Inquirer, asking, “So I wonder: Is this a branch of the Hilton Hotel?”

More From FoodService Director

Industry News & Opinion

Foodservice operators and other employers in New York City are adjusting to a new law that enforces paid time off for staff who have been the victims of certain crimes.

Called paid safe leave, the benefit is believed to be among the first of its kind in the nation. A more limited version has been in effect in Minneapolis since last summer.

The New York law applies to employees who have been the victims of actual or threatened domestic violence, unwanted sexual contact, stalking or human trafficking.

Workers can also opt for safe paid leave if a member of their...

Industry News & Opinion

A Massachusetts bill to end lunch shaming has been stalled in the House, reports South Coast Today.

The House chair of the Education Committee voted on Tuesday for further study of the bill, which would prevent schools from throwing away hot lunches and/or serving an alternative meal to students behind on lunch payments. Under the bill, schools would also be unable to bar students with unpaid balances from participating in extracurricular activities.

Additionally, the bill asks schools to take action in reducing families’ meal debt by helping families apply for free or...

Industry News & Opinion

The University of California, Santa Cruz is converting its Cowell Coffee Shop into a “multi-service basic needs cafe” to aid students facing food insecurity .

The new cafe is being created through a partnership with dining services, the school’s center for Agroecology and Sustainable Food Systems and UCSC’s Cowell College. Due to open at the start of the fall semester, the lower part of the cafe will continue to be a study space for students (with free coffee and tea) and will also host nutrition and financial wellness programming.

Upstairs, the kitchen will be used as a...

Managing Your Business
quitting job

What prompts foodservice managers to clean out their offices and head out with a last paycheck? A new survey suggests the triggers may be changing with the times.

The canvass of 2,000 restaurant professionals, conducted by placement firm Gecko Hospitality, shows lifestyle issues abounding among the top 10 reasons for parting with a restaurant employer last year.

Here are the gender-specific lists:

Top 10 reasons female managers leave

1. Better opportunity

2. Unemployed

3. Relocation

4. Not satisfied

5. No growth

6. Long...

FSD Resources

Code for Asynchronous jQuery Munchkin Tracking Code