Shared from the 4/10/2020 Houston Chronicle eEdition

10,000 meals for restaurant employees

Groups partnering to serve devastated hospitality industry

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Brett Coomer / Staff photographer

Randy Fournier, Hess Corp.’s global dining manager, top, organizes boxes of food handed to him by Fran Zandstra and Duane Failing in a refrigerated van for Second Servings at Hess.

Unemployed Houston restaurant workers have a new outlet for free meals for themselves and their families with a program called “Dinner’s on Us” that launched this week.

Second Servings — the Houston food rescue operation that funnels unsold food from hotels, convention centers, sports venues and retailers to same-day delivery to more than 90 local shelters and soup kitchens — has partnered with Houston-based Sysco and Hess Corp. to prepare as many as 10,000 meals a week for distribution to the hospitality industry (restaurants, hotels, convention service workers), which has been devastated by the coronavirus pandemic.

The project will continue from 10 a.m. to noon every Tuesday and Thursday. Hospitality workers who present a recent pay stub displaying their employer will be able to pick up frozen prepared meals that feed seven or eight people at 702 Avenida De Las Americas, in the LAM parking lot in a contact-free drive-through. “Dinner’s on Us” will run through April and beyond that if funding and need continues, said Barbara Bronstein, Second Servings founder.

The project came together, Bronstein said, after Hess offered its kitchen facilities and staff to prepare the meals using food that Sysco has donated. (Additional foods from Sysco have been purchased by Second Servings.) BHW Capital, a commercial real estate firm, secured the meal distribution site, as well as donated financial support; ACME Party & Tent Rental has provided equipment; and the Mucasey & Associates architectural firm provided traffic flow logistics for the food distribution.

“The global COVID-19 pandemic has brought the travel and hospitality sectors to a near halt,” Hess Global Dining Manager Randy Fournier said. “The consequences have been devastating for hotels, restaurants and others in the hospitality industry. In keeping with our values, Hess is pleased to provide some relief when needed most to those who typically serve others.”

The meals being offered are hearty comfort foods such as chicken and biscuits, red beans and rice and pasta with sausage.

Bronstein said the operation is looking for additional freezer space and that Second Servings is accepting financial donations to keep the project funded. greg.morago@chron.com twitter.com/gregmorago

How to help Make a financial donation to Second Servings at secondservingshouston.org or call 713-824-6605.

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