Tasty Treats Plentiful at Benefit for Food Distribution Center

There was no food going to waste Thursday night as nearly 500 benefactors of the Orange County Food Distribution Center (FDC) gathered for an evening of hors d'oeuvres and wine tasting at the South Coast Village Mercantile Building in Costa Mesa.

Several of the Plaza and Village's restaurants joined forces with 20 wineries to offer the evening's fare--which included a variety of treats, from teriyaki ginger chicken to rich and delicious cakes and pastries.

The FDC coordinates the salvage of more than 2.5 million pounds of food annually that would otherwise be dumped by Orange County grocery stores, restaurants and hotels and instead distributes it to assistance agencies that feed the needy. The FDC's Orange warehouse services 191 nonprofit organizations and 95,000 individuals each year.

"We're doing a great thing, but we've got a long way to go," said FDC director Dan Harney. Harney explained that despite the impressive-sounding numbers, only 15% of the food that is going to waste in the county is being recovered--and reaching only 30% of the needy population.

Harney's favorite tale of salvaged goods goes like this: Somewhere in a local manufacturer's peanut-butter processing things went awry when more than a few cashews came down the chute and "contaminated" the peanut spread. The FDC made the most of the mixed-nut mix-up, receiving 46,000 one-pound jars of the stuff for distribution.

On the scene for Thursday night's benefit were Thomas A. Fuentes, Orange County Republican Party chairman, and state Sen. William Campbell (R-Hacienda Heights). Fuentes, who is chairman of the FDC board of directors, thanked the Segerstrom family for its generous donations to make the evening possible but had trouble competing for the crowd's attention with the food-laden tables once he started calling out raffle winners.

Also enjoying the evening's affair were FDC resource manager Cheri Wood and several FDC volunteers, including John and Julia Prendergast and Jean and George Cejka.

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