DANVILLE – When the National Junior College Athletic Association canceled all of its championship tournaments Monday, including the Men’s Division II basketball tournament at Danville Area Community College, it left the college with cases of snacks and other food that would have fed the teams and fans this week.
Every year, DACC culinary arts instructor Dana Wheeler orders cases of meat and vegetables for her students to prepare and serve three meals a day for hundreds of people who eat in the hospitality room during the multi-day tournament.
Wheeler said not only was she left with food that would have been used during the tournament, but also food to serve 210 garden club members who ended up canceling their catered event due to the coronavirus restrictions.
“We had fresh vegetables delivered like broccoli, so Monday we made broccoli cheese soup and sold it to the staff members,” she said. “Then we donated that money to the DACC food pantry.
“Whatever shelf-stable items we had we took to the DACC food pantry,” Wheeler added, referring to a food pantry accessible to DACC students in need. “We also took croissants, buns, ketchup, dry noodles and cookies from the garden club event to the pantry.”
Wheeler said she had cabbage and potatoes that she was going to use to make corned beef and cabbage during the NJCAA tournament, but instead cooked it up to serve to the DACC faculty who were on campus Tuesday to train on using Blackboard, a learning management system that will allow them to teach their students online for the remainder of the semester.
If the statewide coronavirus restrictions extend past March 30, Wheeler said she will team up with Laura Hensgen, director of community education and video development, to film cooking videos for her culinary arts students.
“If this continues, we’ll have to do this,” Wheeler said. “It shows we’re still supporting the students.”
Cases of snacks and drinks that would have stocked the concession stand during the NJCAA tournament also had to be sold off ... and quickly before campus closes for spring break Friday.
Susie Landers, assessment retention counselor in the adult education department, has been involved with concessions during the NJCAA tournament for years.
“I’ve been in concessions over 20 years,” she said. “I open the concession stand every morning (of the tournament), come back to my office and go back to the concession stand at night.”
During the day, DACC faculty and staff run the concessions for the duration of the tournament. Landers said friends and family make up the night crew who has been selling concessions during the NJCAA tournament for more than 15 years.
“There are 50 people who volunteer to do concessions every year,” she said.
As soon as the NJCAA announced it was canceling all of its tournaments, Landers said she was able to cancel some of the orders — such as for hot dogs, chili, cheese and buns — but many other orders already had been delivered in preparation for the event that was scheduled to begin on Tuesday.
Not only was Landers left with cases of snack foods, candy, condiments and tubes of chocolate chip cookie dough — hundreds of individual pieces in all — to sell because they would be out-of-date by next year’s tournament, but she had to sell it quickly since the college announced Tuesday it would be completely shut down starting Monday through March 27.
“We moved all the items from the concession stand to Susie’s office yesterday,” Laura Williams, dean of adult education, said Wednesday. “It looks like a mini grocery store in her office.
“She put out an email to the DACC employees,” Williams said. “We’re selling things at cost so we can try to recoup some of those dollars.”
The DACC employees came through, and by Wednesday afternoon all that was left was some candy. Landers said even the milk and Otis Spunkmeyer cookies that were delivered Wednesday morning were all sold.
“This morning we went over to Mary Miller (Complex) to empty the coolers and sell our water and Gatorade,” Landers said.
“We were able to put that money back in the pot and use it for next year’s tournament,” she said.
“It’s (NJCAA tournament) a big deal to us here, but when you hear that NASCAR and other larger events are being canceled, selling off some concessions doesn’t seem like that big of a deal after all,” Landers said.