SPRINGFIELD, Ohio -- The children attending Springfield's "Ark North" after-school center started receiving free meals this month thanks to a community-minded agreement at Wittenberg University.
Ark North and its older sibling Ark South are ministries of the Children's Rescue Center, providing after-school fun, fellowship and Bible study for community children.
"Wittenberg wanted to find some way to support this important activity, and we are grateful that Sodexho stepped up to the plate," said Darrell Kitchen, vice president for business and finance at Wittenberg. Sodexho Inc. has provided dining services to the university for many years.
"We prepare 1,300 meals a day on campus, so adding 50 more portions to that number is an easy thing to do," said Sodexho General Manager Dixie McAllister. "The program fits in nicely with what we already do." Sodexho also donates food for the annual Empty Bowls event at Wittenberg that has raised thousands of dollars for the local Food Bank/Free Store.
McAllister added that the nearly 60 Springfield and Clark County residents who work for Sodexho at Wittenberg have always been interested in helping out for a good cause. "We're in the food business, so we are interested in helping hungry people get fed. We are happy to help out in the same community that we are fortunate enough to be working in," McAllister said.
For many of these children, their meal at the after-school center is their dinner meal of the day so it is more than a mere treat, McAllister said. Wittenberg is also hoping that students will become interested in this community service opportunity by transporting and serving the meals.
Ark North got its start when the Rev. Bill McKee, pastor of Good Shepherd Lutheran Church, started a non-profit foundation by providing a site. The Children's Rescue Center, which is widely supported by area churches and organizations. In September, Sodexho will also begin serving meals Ark South, the Center's other after-school center located in the south part of Springfield.
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