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UT Catering donates thousands of pounds of food after home football games

On Saturday, members recovered nearly 1,500 pounds of food from UT Catering that will go toward feeding people experiencing homelessness.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — When people go to Neyland Stadium, they usually watch football. However, people who watch from the skybox get to experience a plethora of food options made available by University of Tennessee Catering through Aramark.

"It's hot dogs, but then it's also pork, mashed potatoes, like, really great food," said Deborah Bethel, an AmeriCorps member serving with UT Sustainability. 

The food is seasoned to perfection, served hot, and enjoyed by many at the games; however, there's always a surplus of leftovers.

So, where does it go?

UT has a zero-waste gameday operations unit that's run through the Sustainability Office, and Bethel is a proud member of it. 

Bethel, alongside a handful of other members, wore shirts that said 'waste warriors' on Saturday.

The UT members bring the food to the UT Culinary Institute, where they sort it, weigh it and disperse it.

The partnership between Knox Area Rescue Ministries and the UT Catering and the Sustainability Office has been around for a few years. However, the amount of food coming in this year is very exciting for the non-profit.

"We love home games for lots of reasons. And this is one of the big ones," said Karen Bowdle with KARM. "A lot of folks who come through the doors at KARM will tell us that it has been several days since they've had a meal."

The donation is a big treat to people who eat their meals with KARM. The ministries feed nearly 300 people every day. Many of the meals come from community donations and partnerships.

"We try so hard to make the dollars stretch far. We are not typically able to feed our guests roasted pork tenderloin," Bowdle said. "And so that was one of the lovely dishes from UT last week."

Guests at KARM raved about the deliciousness of the UT meals

"Oh, my goodness, our guests were just coming back for seconds and thirds," Bowdle said.

Win or lose for the Vols, it's always a win for KARM and the people they serve.

"We have a saying at KARM — 'it all starts with one meal,'" Bowdle said.

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