Good Neighbors

Convention Center Donates Unused Food To Nashville Tornado Victims

When Coronavirus cancellation left them with a surplus of food, they knew just where to send it.

As more than 20,000 athletes from 80 nations gathered to compete in this year's Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus, OH, there was one big thing lacking from the event: an audience.

Typically, around 200,000 spectators fill the seats of the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) to watch as professional bodybuilders, strongmen and fitness stars compete in various events over a 3-day period (and yes, the festival is named after Arnold Schwarzenegger!).

This year's festival was scheduled for March 3-8, but due to the growing concerns about the Coronavirus the Ohio Department of Health issued an order prohibiting general spectators from attending. The GCCC agreed to livestream all of the events.

When the GCCC got the news that the event would go on as scheduled, but without an audience, they were left to come up with a solution for the food that had already been delivered to accommodate the festival's attendees.

The GCCC came up with the idea to repurpose the food and send it to Nashville to help feed tornado victims and first responders.

"While we were waiting for the press conference to start on Tuesday regarding the Arnold Sports Festival, all the news coverage was about the tornado in Nashville," Molly Dale, the general manager for the GCCC's food service provider, said in a press release. "We thought that if the Arnold Sports Festival situation unfolds the way we think it will, we wanted something positive to happen to the food that could not be repurposed."

The food donation included sandwiches, potato chips and bottled water. GCCC/Facebook

So, the food was driven in a refrigerated truck from Columbus to Tennessee on Saturday, where it was delivered and unpacked the following afternoon at Nissan Stadium.

The GCCC's Executive Chef Matt Smith and Sous Chef Shannon Gerasimchik drove separately. Once the food was unloaded, Smith and Gerasimchik helped to prepare and serve meals to a group of over 2,000 first responders.

The GCCC ended up donating over a ton of food, including chicken and egg salad sandwiches, salad, fresh fruit, yogurt, vegetable medley, brown rice, potato chips and bottled water.

Before they arrived, the Columbus team coordinated with Operation BBQ Relief, an organization that has been helping to feed displaced families, volunteers and other victims of the Nashville tornadoes, to come up with a plan to distribute the food.

GCCC worked with Operation BBQ Relief to come up with a plan for the food donation. Operation BBQ Relief/Facebook

Kudos to the GCCC team for their swift action in getting the food from Columbus to Nashville. What an awesome way to take care of a problem by helping others!

How can you start something good?

You can help Operation BBQ continue their relief efforts by donating to the organization's GoFundMe page.

If you're interested in volunteering for Operation BBQ Relief, you can register to volunteer by clicking here.

Let's #StartSomethingGood together.

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