Restaurant donates more than 51,000 lbs food to recovery ministry

Matthew Strother

March 11, 2014

A local restaurant has donated thousands of pounds of food over the years to a local ministry that helps recovering addicts.

LongHorn in LaGrange is owned by Darden Restaurants, which has operated the Darden Harvest program for the last 10 years, donating more than 67 million pounds of food nationwide, said managing partner of LongHorn in LaGrange, Greg Callahan. The local restaurant has harvested extra food for donation to Fellowship Deliverance Ministries in LaGrange for the last seven years.

“What we do is we harvest unused wholesome foods that we deliver to, here in LaGrange, the local Fellowship Deliverance Ministries, and they are in turn are able to feed the hungry,” Callahan said. “Basically the types of food we harvest are – when we project our guest counts, if we are a little bit under that guest count, we prep extra food. It’s that type of food that we use.”

Callahan said the restaurant’s date and time standards are higher than federal regulations, so food the restaurant wouldn’t serve anymore is still good under federal guidelines and donated for use. Other food includes trimmings and additional food prepared but not served. All food is cooked to the proper temperature to meet safety standards then frozen for pickup within seven days, Callahan said.

“Here in LaGrange, over the last seven years that we’ve been here, we’ve donated more than 51,000 pounds of food to the ministries,” Callahan said. “It’s just a way for us to help out the community, make a local impact.”

Much of the food donated includes trimmings from rib eyes, baked potatoes and soups, Callahan said. Chefs trim rib eyes to give them the proper shape, cutting off pieces of otherwise good meat that can be cooked and donated. Callahan said a typical rib-eye loin can yield 2 to 3 pounds of trimmings and the restaurant typically cuts about three loins per day.

Because of the time it takes to bake potatoes, the restaurant has to estimate how many it will serve in a day, and bake them beforehand. When they overestimate and bake too many, the extras are frozen for donation.

Fellowship Deliverance Ministries picks up food from the restaurant about once a week.

“We really appreciate what they do,” said Max Riley, director of Fellowship Deliverance Ministries. “They’ve made a really big impact on helping men in a homeless situation.”

Fellowship Deliverance Ministries offers transitional housing and counseling to recovering male addicts to try and help them get back into society. Riley said the ministry does get other donations and visits the food bank, but the LongHorn donations provide most of the meat for those the ministry serves.

John Person, chief of staff for the ministry, said the group takes the donations to its center, where it is re-cooked to feed the residents. In addition to the main center, there are also four “safe houses” whose residents receive the food.

Richard Cochran, assistant chief of staff and former cook for the ministry, said that the donations go a long and have ensured the ministry has plenty of food to serve its residents.

“We truly appreciate it,” he said.