When Walsh freshman Conner Hluch realized he would have a surplus of meal swipes leftover on his dining card at the end of the year, he decided he couldn’t let that food go to waste. As a member of the Walsh track team, he spent most weekends in the winter and spring traveling for meets. It occurred to him that his teammates might also have extra meals leftover as well.
With the help of Assistant Track Coach Roger Herstine, Athletic Compliance Coordinator Cameron Trudell and Sodexo Services General Manager Laura Roach, Hluch came up with a new program to turn leftover meal swipes into local meals for those in need in the Stark County community.
“Sodexo is committed to creating a positive impact on the quality of life in our local community,” said Roach who manages Walsh University's dining services operated by Sodexo. “When Conner came to us with the idea, we immediately said yes. We welcome any opportunity to work with students and combine our resources to better the local community.”
Sodexo has also been instrumental in facilitating Walsh’s Campus Kitchens program that redistributes and repackages leftover food from the dining halls to local community partners.
With only a little time to plan, the group was overwhelmed by the Walsh student response. In total, students donated more than 1,300 meal swipes which became 500 boxed lunches for local hunger relief agency Refuge of Hope Ministries in Canton.
“Our students here at Walsh are just phenomenal,” said Trudell. “This is the perfect example of what it means to be a part of the Walsh community and culture. We only had a few weeks, to implement the program. And yet we were overwhelmed by how generous and enthusiastic our students were to get involved.”
According to Trudell, the timing couldn’t have been more perfect. Refuge of Hope had just lost a major meal donor when they got the call from Walsh. Future plans for the program include an earlier roll-out in the fall to build awareness.
“I believe the program’s success stems from the emphasis that Walsh University puts on helping those in the community and the number of students on campus who find it important as well. It was also a very simple process for students to donate,” said Hluch. “I hope the success of our simple idea, and the example of how willing Walsh administrators were to support it, will encourage other students to speak up and get involved. There are a lot of good ideas out there. And at Walsh, you have the support to make them happen.”