CHARLOTTE, N.C. Sixty-five thousand people may have been disappointed by the relocation of President Barack Obama’s Bank of America Stadium speech Thursday, but Charlotte’s homeless and hungry were celebrating in high style on Friday.
All the fancy catered food intended for the VIP suites and club rooms at the stadium – and perhaps even for the president himself – was redistributed Friday to local soup kitchens and shelters, via Second Harvest Food Bank of Metrolina.
On the menu: thousands of pounds of pecan-fried chicken, baked orzo, fresh crudités, three-bean bake, fresh-cut fruit and something called short rib cobbler.
And that’s only a partial list.
It had all been prepared in advance by chef Jon Morey and the kitchen staff of Delaware North Inc., the official food provider for the stadium. A dollar value for the food was not immediately available.
“It’s really a wonderful order,” said Kay Carter of Second Harvest, which got 7,500 pounds of the food.
“None of this food will go to waste. We contacted every shelter and soup kitchen in town and asked them how much refrigeration capacity they have and how many are they feeding. It will all be gone at the end of the day.”
Second Harvest has a history of redistributing fresh food at a moment’s notice, she said, including leftovers from major golf tournaments.
However, the Democratic National Convention’s gift is different, if only for the inclusion of enough popcorn for 70,000 people, popped and stuffed into bags. It will go to the community’s various children’s programs, including low-income day cares. “At least it doesn’t weigh a lot,” Carter said.
The donations are credited to the Carolina Panthers and Delaware North, with an assist by US Foods, which provided transportation.
DNC officials decided early Wednesday to move the president’s speech from the stadium to Time Warner Cable Arena out of concern over possible violent thunderstorms.
Sixty-five thousand people holding stadium credentials were told they could no longer attend and the Panthers were left with nearly 8,000 pounds of unneeded food.
Panthers spokesman Riley Fields said the more traditional vendor food (chips, hot dogs, burgers) will keep in freezers for upcoming games, but catered items for VIP suites had to be given away.
In addition to the 7,500 pounds given to Second Harvest, the team gave 500 pounds of food to the Harvest Center and A Better World, he said.
“We have a system for getting unused food to Kay at the food bank, but what’s different with this is the sheer volume and the quality of the food,” Fields said. “It’s gratifying to know that the time, energy and effort that went into preparing the food will ultimately serve those in our community who are most in need.”