Whether she’s teaching people how to prepare fresh food at the Orange Home Grown (OHG) Farmers & Artisans Market on Chapman’s campus or delivering food to local shelters, Deanna Durigon, catering director for Sodexo, the food service provider at Chapman University, believes in giving back to her local community.
The Foundation’s Heroes of Everyday Life program highlights employees who invest their time, talent, and resources to help some of the 42 million people at risk of hunger in the U.S. Collectively they raise awareness, raise funds, coordinate food drives, volunteer in soup kitchens, support food recovery programs, and teach nutrition education and healthy cooking skills.
Since 2010, Durigon has volunteered weekly at a the OHG farmers market by hosting demonstrations on how to use the fresh produce to create healthy dishes. In fact, it was Durigon who started the market’s culinary education outreach program and recruited Sodexo Chefs to help with cooking demonstrations.
She also coordinates the “pay as you can” farm stand program at the OHG Educational Farm. The farm is dedicated to teaching low-income families about backyard agriculture. Every Friday, volunteers pick crops. Families pay what they can for the produce; some don’t pay anything. Leftover produce is donated to homeless shelters and the City of Orange’s after school program.
Durigon also implemented the Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) token system for the market. About 50 families a month use the EBT tokens to stretch their federal nutrition benefits with an extra $10 for produce and other healthy foods.
“Recognizing the efforts employees make in the community can be just as crucial to our missions as what they accomplish on the clock,” explained Gerri Mason Hall, Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation Chair and Chief Human Resources Officer, Sodexo North America.