Hobart and William Smith Colleges - HWS and Sodexo Expand Boys & Girls Club Meal Program
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HWS and Sodexo Expand Boys & Girls Club Meal Program

Campus may be quiet, but the kitchen at Scandling Campus Center is alive with activity. The Colleges are hosting food preparation for the Boys & Girls Club of Geneva, providing hot meals to more than 300 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. With demand from local families soaring 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 is 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. Now, however, schools and the club are closed.

“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.’”

Lavin’s staff — led by Assistant Executive Director Allauna Overstreet-Gibson ’14 — arrives at Scandling Campus Center at 3 p.m. each day and by 6 p.m. they’ve delivered hundreds of hot and healthy meals all over Geneva. Each Sodexo-prepared meal includes a protein, grain, vegetable and milk.

“Adding good food into a home is a very effective economic boost to the family,” Lavin explains. “Not only does it take away the cost of food, but it allows us to put a high-quality meal on the table.” He estimates that the meals save a family of four close to $600 a month on food costs.

As demand grows — the Boys & Girls Club is now feeding senior citizens as well — other local organizations are becoming involved. Bags of donated groceries are included with some meals, and St. Peter’s Episcopal Church is providing dinners through Beef & Brew on Saturdays.

Lavin intends to keep the project running for as long as the need exists. He’s 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.”

In the photo above, Boys & Girls Club of Geneva Assistant Executive Director Allauna Overstreet-Gibson ’14 loads food onto a truck for delivery outside Scandling Campus Center.