Orange County Convention Center Event Clients Work to Combat Hunger During the Holiday Season
Over the course of each year, the Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) in Orlando, Fla., routinely works with sustainably minded clients to help them donate leftover food and unwanted materials after their events. With food and event waste still a glaring problem at many trade shows and conferences, this charitable effort not only helps keep leftover food and event items out of landfill, but also helps positively impact local community nonprofits working to combat hunger and assist those in need.
Most recently, the venue worked with two major event clients to collectively donate nearly 200,000 pounds of food to Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida (SHFBCF), which secures and distributes food and grocery products to more than 625 local nonprofit feeding partners throughout Central Florida.
SHFBCF volunteers were able to collect 3,588 pounds of nonperishable, wrapped and canned food from exhibitors at the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics’ Food & Nutrition Conference & Expo (FNCE) and 196,285 pounds of fresh food items from exhibitors at the International Fresh Produce Association (IFPA)’s Global Produce and Floral Show.
“As one of the largest convention centers in the U.S., we continuously encourage and empower our clients to implement sustainable initiatives during their event,” said OCCC Executive Director Mark Tester. “We greatly appreciate the efforts of IFPA and FNCE to prioritize these food donations that have created a significant impact on our local community.”
During the center’s 2020-2021 fiscal year, nearly $220,000 worth of food and merchandise, including approximately 13,725 pounds of food, were donated to local organizations including the SHFBCF, Great Oaks Village, Libby’s Legacy, United Against Poverty, One Heart for Women and Children, and Orange County Public Schools.
In January, the NAFEM Show is expected to gather one to two pallets of food donations for SHFBCF, and several other event clients have expressed interest in setting up food donations after the holidays, as well as incorporating other sustainable initiatives at their events, according to OCCC officials.
As a member of Feeding America, the largest charitable domestic hunger-relief organization in the U.S., SHFBCF distributes approximately 300,000 meals every day to a seven-county service area including Brevard, Lake, Orange, Osceola, Seminole, Volusia and Marion. With the help of food and financial donors, volunteers and a caring and committed community, SHFBCF works to solve the root causes of hunger while helping its neighbors thrive via job training programs, advocating for access to nutritious foods and inspiring community involvement. To learn more, go here.
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