XENIA — Community service and teamwork were on full display in Xenia Thursday courtesy of Xenia Rotary and Bob Evans Farms.
The two joined forces to distribute nearly 44,000 pounds of eggs and potatoes to organizations and agencies who help feed those in need. Bob Evans, which has a sausage processing plant on Birch Road, had the glut of food due to the coronavirus-forced closures of restaurants and travel restrictions, and was asking its local and regional plants to help distribute.
“As soon as we discussed the situation, I thought of Xenia Rotary,” said Xenia plant manager Eric Winkle, who is also a Rotarian. Winkle said he committed to distributing the food because he knew he would be able to count on Rotary.
“Rotarians are, first and foremost, committed to serving our community,” he said. Winkle contacted club president Karl Colón, who agreed to help.
Xenia Rotary president-elect Matthew Bennett coordinated with the organizations and institutions to receive the food for distribution, while Rotarian Evan Scott contacted the 12 groups to determine how much each needed.
“Our ultimate goal is all the food is eaten,” Scott said.
One-by-one, those groups made their way to the Birch Road processing plant to pick up their food, and in many cases, help load skids full of diced, shredded and red skin mashed potatoes, raw eggs in shell, hard-boiled eggs in shell and in brine, and liquid eggs.
Receiving the food were Xenia FISH Food Pantry (25,000 pounds), Xenia Community Schools (5,000), Yellow Springs (5,000), Xenia Adult Recreation and Services Center (1,000), One Bistro (300), Interfaith Hospitality Network (500), Family Violence and Prevention Center of Greene County (500), Emmanuel Baptist Church The Kings Table Food Pantry (250), Helping Hands (500), A House of Prayer (250), The Jeremiah Tree (250), and Cedarville Food Pantry (4,000).
“This donation will not only help bolster our supplies, but will allow us to add a welcome variety of new options,” said XCS Superintendent Dr. Gabe Lofton. “On behalf of all the students and families who need support at this critical time, we send our thanks to Bob Evans Farms for their generosity.”
The district’s food service staff will use the donated items to make meals for students that can be picked up during the daily grab-and-go meal service that has been in effect since March 16, according to district communications coordinator Kristy Creel. Through April 16, XCS has distributed 29,854 meals to children in the area. These grab-and-go meals include breakfast and lunch items, as well as “weekend bags” each Friday to get students through Saturday and Sunday, Creel said.
Yellow Springs will use its allotment to feed children in the local school district and to help churches and the food pantry, according to Village Manager Josue Salmeron, who rolled up his proverbial sleeves and hopped into the trailer to help load the food assembly line style.
“We’re doing our part,” Salmeron said. “We’re in this together. We’ve got to get through it together.”
The food will help the village feed more than 130 families, 226 students who receive free or reduced-price meals, and other kids who aren’t enrolled in the district.
“Anything helps,” Salmeron said. “Like many communities, we’ve been focused on coordinating our support efforts locally. When we were contacted by Xenia Rotary, we jumped at the opportunity to better serve our families.”
Judy Baker, executive director of the Xenia senior center, said their items will benefit the home-delivered meal program, which is still ongoing.
“It’ll help a lot, especially the eggs,” she said.
Thursday wasn’t the first time Bob Evans and Rotary teamed up. The club’s annual Pancake Day serves sausage provided by Bob Evans Farms.
“Bob Evans Farms has provided leadership through Xenia Rotary for years,” Colón said.
Contact Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.