Tortilla shells. Pretzel rolls. Brownie mix. Shrimp. French onion soup.
These are just some of the items leftover after a summer season at Morey’s Piers. When our rides and restaurants shut down every September, the task of distributing all this extra food to local nonprofits is only just beginning.
“It would certainly be easier to put it all in the dumpster,” says Denise Beckson, vice president of HR. “But we never want to waste product that can help someone else. We want to give back.”
After a week of organizing the tasty goods this year — a task that required a full-time inventory manager, two food-and-beverage managers, and a seasonal inventory associate — the first step was an end-of-year employee party that took care of some product, including remaining sausage and schnitzel from our recent Oktoberfest celebration. Then came our employee sale, where leftover goods were made available to staff for cheap. (This explains why you may have seen Tim Samson, head of marketing, carting around an obscene amount of jalapeno sausage before his Colorado ski trip. Other colleagues have purchased items for use on camping trips, on hunting excursions and at Halloween parties — apparently, our olives make for excellent eyeballs.)
But, after all this, our warehouse was still full of perfectly scrumptious food we didn’t want to waste. So, approximately $1,000 worth was delivered to the First United Methodist Church in Cape May Court House, which operates a food pantry for the county’s underprivileged residents. Another load totaling more than $2,000 was donated to Lazarus House, an ecumenical food pantry supported by six congregations in the Wildwoods. In 2018, this group provided food and personal care items to 16,122 people in the county.
“This donation is timely, since we’re gearing up for Thanksgiving, for which 245 families have already signed up,” says Frank Stone, Lazarus House director and lead banker at Mariner’s Arcade. “Not only does this allow us to stretch our inventory, it allows us to provide something out of the norm for guests who come on a regular basis. It's very meaningful when one of the premier organizations in Wildwood recognizes the needs of the community around them.”
Finally, nearly $1,900 worth of food was delivered to the culinary program at Wildwood High School, which enrolls approximately 130 students. The kids are using the items to develop a menu for the school’s student-run cafe, which services faculty as well as the student body. (We hear their loaded baked-potato soup, made with our cheddar cheese, is a hit.)
The kids are also using some items — like shrimp and lobster — to create dishes for the school’s Warrior Wagon food truck, which you can sample at local football games.
“You’d be amazed how many kids had never tried seafood before this,” says Stephen Serano, the school’s culinary arts teacher.
Items that can’t be incorporated into the curriculum, like 300 hot dogs, are cooked up and offered to students who may have come to school hungry that day.
“You can feel the excitement when the food is being unloaded off the truck,” says Serrano, whose students have gone on to work as cooks in local restaurants, including Jumbo’s. “Morey’s Piers has been an instrumental partner for us, and they don’t do it for a photo-op. They do it to better the community.”
If you want to check out this program for yourself — or if you’d like to support the next generation of culinary artists — the high school’s cafe is now open to the public from 11am-12:30pm on Tuesdays and Wednesdays, with reservations.
Something tells us you won’t have to worry about leftovers.