Dorsey Schools in Roseville hosted a food giveaway sponsored by the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association and Sysco Food Services of Michigan for hospitality employees struggling due to the closures of businesses such as restaurants and bars.

Dorsey Schools in Roseville hosted a food giveaway sponsored by the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association and Sysco Food Services of Michigan for hospitality employees struggling due to the closures of businesses such as restaurants and bars.

Photo by Patricia O’Blenes


Food giveaway for hospitality employees hosted at Dorsey Schools in Roseville

By: Brendan Losinski | Roseville - Eastpointe Eastsider | Published January 22, 2021

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ROSEVILLE — Dorsey Schools in Roseville hosted a food giveaway Jan. 8 for employees in the hospitality industry.

The event was sponsored and organized by the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association and Sysco Food Services. It was done because those in the hospitality industry, including employees of restaurants, bars and hotels, have often been the hardest hit by the closures and limited openings mandated as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic.

“You have to take a facemask off to eat, and that seems to have kept us down the longest,” explained Amanda Smith, the executive vice president for the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association. “Some of the people in the line today haven’t been gainfully employed since March. Even when we were open, it was at 50% capacity, so not everyone was called back.”

Matt Hall, a culinary instructor at Dorsey, said that they were eager to assist in the program, since they have such a strong relationship with many in the hospitality industry and many students of theirs enter that field.

“Dorsey has always been very involved in the community in one way or another,” said Hall. “I think this is one more opportunity for Dorsey to facilitate the hospitality industry that has been hit so badly over the past year and probably in the upcoming year. One of the things we’d like to see is the hospitality employees be able to sustain themselves, but a lot of them haven’t had a paycheck. It’s hard for them.”

Smith said the organization chose Roseville since they knew there were many hospitality employees in the area and because they had an able partner with Dorsey Schools.

“We looked at all of the areas in the state where we know we have a great host location, like the Dorsey campus here, and where they would be able to provide a ton of help in packing all of the boxes from their leadership team,” she said. “This is our sixth food giveaway as part of our employee relief in partnership with Sysco Food Services of Michigan. Through the month of December, we did one in Novi, one in Grand Rapids, Bay Harbor, Midland and Alpena.”

She said that the food giveaways are extensions of efforts they have been taking since the pandemic began.

“Our association started an employee relief fund back in March. To date, we have given out $3.1 million in cash assistance to employees who have been displaced from the hospitality industry,” said Smith. “As the winter months came and we realized people weren’t going to be able to return to work, we wanted to get food into the hands of these people, as well.”

Hall said he was happy that action was being taken to help those in the industry, as he has seen firsthand how hard some have been hit.

“Most of the employees that have gone out into the hospitality industry have been hit the hardest,” he said. “It’s been crippled by the pandemic. Restaurant and bar staff, cooks, waitstaff and all of the facilitators in that industry, many of them have been without a job. So this was something we could do to help them.”

Many of the hospitality workers who lined up to receive the meals expressed their gratitude at getting any kind of help.

“To me, it means that there’s actually someone who cares about what is going on right now and cares that not everyone is able to work like normal,” said Michael Tardy, a hospitality employee from Roseville. “I have been hit tremendously (by the pandemic). It’s affected my hours, my money, income for home purposes and anything.”

The meals were provided by Sysco, which has been partnering with the Michigan Restaurant and Lodging Association for months.

“Sysco provides all of the food for these giveaways, so that is more than 22,000 meals over three weeks. We have about 400 boxes here, so that’s 1,600 meals here at Dorsey today,” said Smith. “It’s a different selection at each of our food giveaways, but today, we are giving out family food packs, which have steak, hash browns, broccoli, oranges and yogurt. So it’s a clear breakfast and a clear dinner that could feed a family of four, although it could probably get stretched to a family of five.”

Smith said this is a cause many people don’t think about and that she hopes this will help hold people over until the virus is under control.

“The big reward for me in doing these things is that we’re able to give some people some help. It lets them know there are people working on their behalf and concerned about them and are trying to keep things positive,” she remarked. “The hospitality industry is full of people-people. We want community and we thrive on our teams at our restaurants or hotels, and not having that has been really challenging.”

Anyone wishing to contribute or donate can find more information at www.mrla.org.

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