Penn State Retail Dining Partners with Central Pennsylvania Food Bank to Reduce Food Insecurity
Last fall, Penn State Retail Dining took an important step toward reducing food waste while helping alleviate hunger in the State College community.
“Our Starbucks stores in Paterno Library and the HUB were looking for a solution for unsold items such as sandwiches, salads, and protein bars,” says John Mondock, director of purchasing for Penn State’s Housing and Food Services.
Mondock and other representatives of Retail Dining met with Eric Orndorff, director of agency and program services at the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank, and Orndorff suggested that a local member agency of the food bank, the Abba Java Coffeehouse, could be a perfect fit for a pilot food donation program.
Abba Java, which is part of the campus ministry of St. Paul's United Methodist Church and Wesley Foundation, is a cafe in downtown State College that offers free coffee, tea, snacks, Wi-Fi, and study and socializing space for students. Vince Raco, associate director of Retail Dining, and Sue Justice, coffeehouse manager for Abba Java, set up a schedule for Wednesday and Friday food donations.
“The students who frequent Abba Java are pleased to see Penn State’s efforts to reduce food waste,” Justice says. “They appreciate the variety, which includes pastries and prepared foods such as protein bowls and boxes, sandwiches, and wraps.”
Raco says the partnership is working well. “Our goal is always to reduce waste and be efficient when ordering products, but unsold products are inevitable, and it’s great that they’re being used locally to reduce food insecurity.”
“This is a new level of engagement for us with Penn State,” says Joe Arthur, executive director of the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank. “We’re excited that Penn State is participating in the charitable food network locally, which includes reaching a vulnerable student population facing food insecurity through Abba Java Coffeehouse. We look forward to continuing and expanding this partnership.”
Plans are under way to expand the food donation program, with a goal of having all dining facilities at University Park and many commonwealth campuses partnering with food banks across the state.
The Central Pennsylvania Food Bank is a nonprofit organization whose mission is to reduce hunger in 27 counties across Pennsylvania. By working with more than 1,000 local agencies and partner program, the Central Pennsylvania Food Bank serves nearly 140,000 people in need every month. For more information, visit or call 717-564-1700.
Abba Java Coffeehouse, at 299 Locust Lane in State College, is open from 9 a.m. until 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. Friday, and 12:30 p.m. until 6 p.m. Sunday.