Coordinating food for a Jimmy Carter Work Project is no small task. Not only do thousands of volunteers need to be fed for a week, but those meals need to be prepared safely and served efficiently. How is such a large undertaking coordinated?

"We're smart enough to know when we don't know something," says Becky Neuhaus, coordinating food services, transportation and lodging for this year's build. Neuhaus found answers by recruiting a group of food service professionals, including directors and former directors of local restaurant associations, for advice and support.

That leadership, combined with generous donations of supplies and services from food service companies and professionals, has resulted in success for the project.

The system is complicated. Out-of-town volunteers are staying at the dormitories of three local colleges and universities this week, and eat breakfast and dinner at the dormitory cafeterias. The universities provide breakfast; dinner has been donated by Sysco and is being served by university food service staffs.

Lunch is provided for both out-of-town and local volunteers at three middle schools, one located near each of the major build sites. With food donated again by Sysco, lunches are being served mostly by volunteers, the majority of whom work in the food service industry. Food service professionals oversee the meal at each site, as the volunteers being fed are bused in and out of the cafeterias in two shifts to keep traffic manageable.

"The lunches have gone like clockwork," says Neuhaus. They're also satisfying, important for volunteers who burn countless calories swinging hammers under the hot sun. For example, lunch served Thursday consisted of stuffed peppers, corn, salad, bread, fruit and a piece of cake.

Snacks also have been available at the work site. The Salvation Army has provided canteen trucks, bringing snacks from the warehouse to the build sites. "They have been phenomenal," says Neuhaus, "they brought all these canteens in from Corpus Christi, from Galveston."

In the evenings, sandwiches are brought to the sites for the "elf crews," who work after-hours, helping bring up to speed any houses falling behind schedule.

And that's not all the supplies the food service crews have received. The Aluminum Association donated thousands of cases of water cans for the build. Aramark supplied the catering for the orientation session last Sunday at no charge. And over the course of the week, many companies have called up offering to donate supplies, from Popsicles to thousands of bottles of sports drinks.

In all, says Neuhaus, somewhere near 90 percent of the needed supplies and services have been donated for this year's build. "My food service people have worked just as hard as these construction volunteers," she brags. "You've got to have that support system in place for this to work."

Other Stories from the 1998 JCWP
JCWP Homeowners:
Wade and Shalina Gibson

"I grew up in this area," says Wade Gibson. "I'm coming back home."

More stories:
John and Belvin Richard
Nancy Rosas
Olga Martinez
Betty and Seff Polk
JCWP Volunteers:
Jimmy and Rosalynn Carter
The former U.S. President and First Lady have led the Habitat build bearing their name every year since 1984.

More stories:
Eunita Shields
First Ladies for Habitat
Joanne and Greg Janson
Campus Chapters
JCWP Behind the Scenes:
First Aid
What do the volunteers in the first aid tent do? Hopefully, very little.

More stories:
The Green Team
Security Volunteers
Day-By-Day Photo Journal | 1998 JCWP Home Page

JCWP Overviews: 1984-96 | 1997 | 1998 | 1999 | 2000

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