Next Course working to recover food from dining services

by Zoe Seiler, Staff Reporter

INDIANOLA, Iowa — One Simpson College education professor is working with Sodexo to start Next Course at Simpson, a program that would recover food from Pfeiffer, Au Bon Pain and catering services to donate to Indianola churches.

Simpson is the fifth college in Iowa to start of food recovery program, along with Iowa State University, Drake University, Cornell College and Grinnell College.

Education professor Chad Timm has been working with Mindy Murphy, general manager of Sodexo, to begin Next Course.

“Sodexo has always been really involved with the stop hunger initiative, fighting hunger, doing different Servathon drives,” Murphy said. “It’s been one of the main parts of the company for as long as I can remember, and I’ve worked for the company since 2000. It’s a huge part of our culture as a whole.”

Next Course is working to recover all the food that would be thrown away in Pfeiffer, ABP and catering, and then donated to six Indianola churches.

“This is just food that because of regulations has to be thrown away,” Timm said. “Food can’t be out for so long without being refrigerated. Sodexo’s policy is that they don’t cook food, put it out, put it in the refrigerator and then put it out again, so that food gets thrown away.”

The self-serve food at Pfeiffer and the cookies and bread at ABP can only sit out for a certain period. At ABP,cookies and bread can only be out for one day. Food that is for self-service at Pfeiffer is not reusable once it hits the serving line.

“Those types of food dishes [are] put into disposable aluminum pans. Basically we weigh it, label it with the item, the date and where it came from, and then store in the cooler or however is appropriate for it until the pick-up times come,” Murphy said.

Students volunteer to deliver the recovered food on Monday and Thursday mornings to churches in Indianola.

“Partnered with [six] churches that have free meals,” Timm said. “Tuesday nights the First United Methodist Church has a meal where anybody in the community who wants to come to the meal can come. They’ve been feeding 75 to 130 people every Tuesday night. Most of the people aren’t from their church. They are people from Indianola who need it. Thursday there are [five] churches that rotate a free meal.”

Next Course at Simpson made its first delivery Monday  to First United Methodist Church.

“We delivered 50 pounds of recovered food Monday morning. According to Food Recovery Network, every 1.2 pounds of food is a meal. This morning we delivered 41.6 meals,” Timm said.

“We just got an email this morning from the recipients from Monday’s delivery saying, ‘Here’s what we’re going to do with the food.’ Whatever we can work in for that night’s meal, awesome. Whatever we can’t, we’ll start freezing it and find uses for it,” Murphy said. “Even if it’s 40 meals every delivery, that’s still making an impact.”

Students interested in delivering food should email Timm at [email protected].