Overland Park Convention Center partners with local food rescue organization to address large-scale event food waste and hunger in the community
Overland Park, Kan. (May 9, 2023)—Today the Overland Park Convention Center announced a partnership with Pete’s Garden, a food recovery organization that recovers surplus prepared foods from local caterers, restaurants, and food service operations, and repackages and redirects the food as healthy take-home meals for families who need assistance in the greater Kansas City area.
The take-home meals are distributed for free through social service organizations that serve families with children. Current recipients include Kansas City area Head Start programs and social service organizations, including Operation Breakthrough, Boys & Girls Club, Jewish Family Services, Avenue of Life, and Shawnee Community Services.
“Pete’s Garden makes it easier for families to share healthy meals together at home,” said Tamara Weber, founder, and executive director of Pete’s Garden. “To ensure food safety and provide fresh and healthy meals to families, Pete’s Garden is very selective about what food can be donated. The Overland Park Convention Center has demonstrated exemplary adherence to these food safety standards.”
According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food waste is estimated to be between 30 and 40% of the entire food supply. In 2022, Pete’s Garden recovered nearly 70,000 pounds of prepared proteins and side dishes and distributed over 75,000 meals to local families. By collaborating with the convention center, they can make an even greater impact.
“Minimizing food waste is a significant challenge in the hospitality industry, especially in larger venues like ours,” said Jessica Corona, director of food and beverage at the Overland Park Convention Center. “To tackle this issue, we have implemented a two-pronged approach: first, by donating prepared food to those in need and second, through food composting as a part of our current sustainability program. We are always seeking ways to be more sustainable while also being a people-focused organization—what better way to meet this goal than by serving those in our local community.”
Pete’s Garden accepts food only if it has been prepared in a health department inspected kitchen, and handled and stored in accordance with safe time-temperature standards. Volunteers then package the meals in a commercial kitchen facility overseen by food safety-certified staff. All meals are labeled with a use-by date.
To learn more about the Overland Park Convention Center’s partnership with Pete’s Garden and other sustainability initiatives, visit opconventioncenter.com/
sustainability. To donate, volunteer or learn more about Pete’s Garden, visit petesgarden.org.
About Overland Park Convention Center
The award-winning Overland Park Convention Center opened in November of 2002 on a 26-acre site in the heart of Overland Park, the largest suburban city in the Kansas City metropolitan and the second largest city in Kansas. Adorned with over sixty original works of art and equipped with state-of-the-art communications systems, the 245,000 square floor complex features a 60,000 sq. ft. exhibit hall that connects to the 25,000 sq. ft. Edwin C. Eilert Ballroom and 15,000 sq. ft. of meeting room space. Natural light radiates throughout the unusually spacious (44,000 sq. ft.) pre-function and registration areas. Among the convention centers many awards, the most recent include: 2023 Best Small Convention Center in North America, EXHIBITOR Magazine; 2023-2020 Top 30 Convention Centers in North America, EXHIBITOR Magazine; 2021 Best Customer Service & On-Site Support in North America, EXHIBITOR Magazine; 2021 -2020 Best Small Convention Center in North America, EXHIBITOR Magazine; 2019 Best Convention Centers in North America, Business View Magazine; 2023 – 2002 Best Meeting & Conference Facility, Ingram’s Magazine; 2023 – 2018 Prime Site Award, Facilities & Destinations Magazine
About the Pete’s Garden: Food Recovery
Tamara Weber founded Pete’s Garden as a tribute to her dad, Pete Sluk, who had the best backyard garden in Dickson City, PA. Pete always grew more than his family needed so he regularly sent Tami off with bags of fresh vegetables to share with neighbors. Lettuce in the spring, tomatoes in late summer, and apples in the fall. The harvest from his garden was never wasted. After 15 in the corporate world, Tamara decided to apply her business development skills to impact other social issues important to her, namely food waste and food insecurity. The idea for Pete’s Garden began to take root. Now Tamara is working to “pay it forward” by ensuring more Kansas City kids have access to the healthy family dinners she grew up with. Pete’s Garden distributes meals through nonprofits and social service organizations that serve families with children. We deliver meals to Head Start programs, after-school programs, food pantries, and housing programs in the Kansas City metro area. We do not deliver directly to homes or individuals.
Kids Feeding Kids™
In addition to food recovery, Pete’s Garden partners with high school culinary arts programs to engage students in preparing take-home meals for families in their communities. This program, Kids Feeding Kids™, provides educators with standards-based food justice and culinary curriculum that focuses on increasing food access, reducing food insecurity, and raising awareness about the social and environmental impacts of food waste. Educators who participate in KFK receive lesson plans along with all the ingredients and supplies they need to help their students prepare up to 1,000 meal servings.