Spurs/ARAMARK donating hot dogs and pretzels to Haven for Hope

By Guillermo X. Garcia

Hot dogs and pretzels left unsold after Spurs and Silver Stars basketball and Rampage hockey home games and most special events at the ATT Center are helping feed the homeless at Haven for Hope.

The team concessionaire, ARAMARK, began donating the food last month as part of the Spurs’ contribution to the NBA’s Green Week initiative, the league-wide effort promoting community involvement and recycling, according to Spurs spokeswoman Stacey Mitch.

Unsold food had been thrown away before the arrangement was made, said Shanna Salazar, executive director of the Society of St. Vincent de Paul, which operates St. Vinnys Bistro at Haven’s Prospects Courtyard.

She estimated that the value of the donation from ARAMARK and Spurs Sports and Entertainment, the corporate entity that owns the sports teams, will average about $1,000 per event.

Spurs officials said the ATT Center hosted 135 events last year, which includes all Spurs, Silver Stars and Rampage home games, as well as concerts and family-themed entertainment.

“With 135 events per year, that would mean $135,000 worth of food that we would be getting from them, which is huge for us,” Salazar said.

Under the recently inked agreement, the concessionaire wraps and packs the leftover food for pickup by the society’s vehicle after the events.

The agreement requires that the food be served the following day.

The donation helps meet the current demand for 1,800 meals a day at the bistro, Salazar said, and comes as the society is laying plans to increase that number to 2,500 a day.

“Without their donation, as well as from several other local restaurants, we would simply not be able to do what we do,” Salazar said. “With the summer heating up, our meal counts at Prospects Courtyard are increasing.

“We are feeding approximately 600 people three meals per day from a kitchen designed only to accommodate one-sixth of that amount.

“We will be expanding in the coming months, but until then, ARAMARK and Spurs Sports Entertainment are our saving graces.

“Their donations really help as we adapt to the increasing need,” Salazar said.

In a news release, Tim Witkowski, ARAMARK’s general manager at the center, said his firm is “proud to play a role in the fight against poverty, and this is an opportunity for us to provide food for a lot of people who are hungry.”

Mitch said the only ATT Center event not included in the food donation is the annual San Antonio Stock Show and Rodeo, which takes over the center during its annual two-week run.

The society’s bistro provides meals of 3,200 calories per day per person. A higher caloric and carbohydrate intake helps decrease a person’s craving for alcohol, she said.

Salazar said the society gets surplus food from other local eateries.

Apart from its Haven presence, it provides 1.37 million meals at 75 sites in South Texas, most in San Antonio, under its Operation Food Pantry, with partners like Daily Bread Ministries and Meeting the Need.

Among other local donors, Starbucks provides unsold scones and other pastries, Longhorn Steak House provides potatoes and sweet potatoes and Olive Garden donates what Salazar calls the Haven crowd favorite, minestrone soup.

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