Solheim Cup's leftovers help local food pantries

The organizers of the Between Friends food pantry in Sugar Grove got more than they anticipated during a food collection drive at the Solheim Cup golf tournament last month.

People could get in free to watch practice rounds if they brought four nonperishable items for the pantry, which expects to open by Oct. 1, Village Trustee Melisa Taylor said. That generosity resulted in 1,500 pounds of food.

But then, more came. Officials from Minnesota-based Prom Catering, the company that provided food for the tournament, saw what Taylor and friends were doing, and offered to give them any leftover food - both perishable and fresh - at the end of the tournament.

Between Friends packed up enough to fill a semitrailer, Taylor said, and delivered much of it to Hesed House shelter in Aurora, Lazarus House shelter in St. Charles and a food pantry in Yorkville.

"The easiest thing for them (the caterers) would have been to throw it away," marveled a grateful Taylor, who is spearheading the effort to open Between Friends.

The Solheim Cup, held at Rich Harvest Farms, featured American and European women's teams. It drew more than 100,000 visitors during the weeklong event, according to Village President Sean Michels.

Mike Nagel, Prom's operations manager for the Solheim, said the catering company typically donates dry goods (such as condiments and crackers) and perishables to charities after events. They may have a case of bagged vegetables, for example, where they only used one bag; they can't return the rest to their supplier, so they give it away.

"It was just wonderful," said Donna Bauer, coordinator of volunteers and special events for Lazarus House. It received fruit trays, cheese and cold cuts. The fresh fruit, in particular, "was a tremendous treat for our guests," she said.

Lazarus House is serving about 60 people in its emergency overnight shelter. It provides dinner and breakfast at the shelter, and offers clients a sack lunch.

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