Overland Park Convention Center partners with food recovery organization Pete’s Garden

The Overland Park Convention Center is expanding its strategies for sustainable conventions and meetings with a new partnership to minimize food waste.

The convention center announced a partnership with Pete’s Garden, a food recovery organization that takes surplus prepared foods from local caterers, restaurants, and food service operations, and prepares healthy family-sized meals for those who need assistance in the greater Kansas City area.

The take-home meals are distributed for free through social service organizations that serve families with children. Current recipients include the Kansas City area Head Start programs and social service organizations including Operation Breakthrough, Boys & Girls Club, Jewish Family Services, Avenue of Life, and Shawnee Community Services.

“Pete’s Garden makes it easier for families to share healthy meals together at home,” said Tamara Weber, Founder and Executive Director of Pete’s Garden. “To ensure food safety and provide fresh and healthy meals to families, Pete’s Garden is very selective about what food can be donated. The Overland Park Convention Center has demonstrated exemplary adherence to these standards.”

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, food waste is estimated to be between 30 and 40 percent of the entire food supply. In 2022, Pete’s Garden recovered nearly 70,000 pounds of prepared proteins and side dishes and distributed over 75,000 meals to local families. By collaborating with the convention center, they can make an even greater impact.

“Minimizing food waste is a significant challenge in the hospitality industry, especially in larger venues like ours,” said Jessica Corona, director of food and beverage of the Overland Park Convention Center. “To tackle this issue, we have implemented a two-pronged approach: first, by donating prepared food to those in need, and second, through food composting as a part of our current sustainability program. We are always seeking ways to be more sustainable while also being a people-focused organization—what better way to meet this goal than by serving those in our local community.”

Pete’s Garden accepts food only if it has been prepared in a health-department inspected kitchen, and handled and stored in accordance with safe time-temperature standards. Pete’s Garden then processes and repackages food in a commercial kitchen facility by certified food safety managers. All meals are labeled with a use-by date.

To learn more about the Overland Park Convention Center’s partnership with Pete’s Garden and other sustainability initiatives, visit opconventioncenter.com/sustainability. To donate, volunteer or learn more about Pete’s Garden, visit petesgarden.org.