The Broadmoor Hotel photographed April 10, 2007. (Gazette file photo)
They were destined for the city’s largest homeless shelter.
An accelerating trend in Colorado Springs aims to provide leftover food from businesses across the city to nonprofits that serve meals to impoverished and homeless residents.
In December, for example, Catholic Charities of Central Colorado received a $75,000 grant from the Walmart Foundation for a new refrigerated truck to replace a vehicle that routinely broke down, hampering food runs for its Marian House Soup Kitchen.
And late last year, the Springs Rescue Mission received a combined $50,000 from the El Pomar Foundation and The Anschutz Foundation to purchase its first refrigerated truck for similar deliveries.
The Broadmoor is the first to provide the shelter with a steady supply of prepared food that otherwise would have gone to waste. And it’s calling on other members of the Pikes Peak Lodging Association to join the endeavor.
"When you’re thinking about the waste that occurs, that goes to the landfill, as well as the waste that occurs that could benefit somebody, the good far outweighs any potential negative," said Jack Damioli, The Broadmoor’s president and CEO.
The Broadmoor is owned by the Denver-based Anschutz Corp., whose Clarity Media Group owns The Gazette.
The trend of so-called "food rescue" programs gained steam in recent years across Colorado Springs with the successes of the nonprofit Colorado Springs Food Rescue and the startup FoodMaven.
Still, the restaurant and hotel industries have long been reluctant to donate prepared food that went uneaten, amid fears that poor handling could lead to food poisoning, said Rochelle Schlortt, Catholic Charities’ spokeswoman.
"That thinking has really changed over the years," Schlortt said. "Now, it’s a learning process – or was a learning process – in our community of getting people to understand that … soup kitchens understand how to handle food, and it’s OK to donate prepared food."
Catholic Charities once had a similar partnership with the Cheyenne Mountain Resort. It now receives perishable food from 10 to 15 businesses, including Poor Richard’s and 7-Eleven. And it wants to expand with its new truck.
Schlortt voiced optimism that The Broadmoor’s partnership with Springs Rescue Mission could push some of the city’s other large kitchens and businesses to follow suit.
The hotel’s leftovers can be substantial.
The Broadmoor makes 5 percent in excess food for each buffet-style event to ensure it won’t run out, said John Johnstone, vice president of food and beverages.
In three trial runs last year, the hotel donated more than 3,500 pounds of food to the Springs Rescue Mission, said Michael Longo, the nonprofit’s executive chef and director of in-kind services.
None of the food given to the Springs Rescue Mission was previously served, or even removed from the kitchen. Its temperature is routinely checked to ensure nothing goes bad, Johnstone said.
"We’re treating this as if it was going to one of our guests," Damioli said.
The partnership is expected to reduce the cost of feeding hundreds of people a day, which currently averages 29 cents a meal.
And in the process, the nonprofit’s menu gets a boost, Longo said.
The donated bison short rib and prime rib roast were used to make stews at the nonprofit, he said.
And a wild boar green chili stew was served as-is at the nonprofit’s dining hall, over a bed of rice.
"They need good nutrition," said Longo, of the nonprofit’s guests.