Busch Gardens Williamsburg is currently gearing up for another season of exciting thrills and experiences. The 2015 season was a success with many different events taking place from Food & Wine Festival to Christmas Town. As the park is coming off celebrating 40 years of fun, park personnel are reaching out to the local community to assist in ensuring others are apart of the fun they deliver.

The park donated 4,000 pounds of fresh produce, dairy products and packaged foods to residential food pantries in James City County’s Grove neighborhood. The food donation was in partnership with the Grove Christian Outreach Center of Williamsburg. Busch Gardens and the outreach center are testing a pilot program in which the theme park donates its surplus fresh, frozen, and packaged food items to the center.

Courtesy: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Park President Carl Lum looks forward to giving back to the community outside of daily operations at the theme park. Since taking the position in 2010 he has seen many opportunities to reach out to both park guests and the community that lives around the park. “Well I think it is a great opportunity to show one of our neighbors The Grove what we can do to  help them out and we look at them as part of the Busch Gardens family” he said. Carl Lum looks forward to the 2016 operating season at  Busch Gardens after celebrating 40 years of fun in 2015.

The Grove community is designated by the US Department of Agriculture as a food desert due to low income levels. The lack of access to healthy, affordable foods at nearby grocery stores is impossible. Food deserts in the US contribute to insecurity of food available, and are a principle cause of hunger in the United States.

Courtesy: Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Lindsey Mair, a buyer for Busch Gardens’ culinary department and Grove Outreach Center volunteer, is looking forward to this opportunity. “Our intent is to put our surplus food to good use and not let it go to waste,” she said. The donated food will reach its expiration date before the 2016 season begins on March 20. “Our largest donation of the year will likely come after Christmas Town ends and the park closes until spring, as we typically have a surplus of food that would expire within that timeframe” she adds.

Pat McCormick, Executive Director of the Grove Outreach Center, said approximately 14,500 food-insecure individuals live in the City of Williamsburg, James City and York counties. Specifically, the overall food insecurity rate in James City County in 2013 was 9.3 percent with an estimated 6,310 food-insecure individuals living in the community.

“It is important that residents in Grove have access to good, nutritious foods in their own community,” she said.

Busch Gardens Williamsburg looks forward to giving back to the community for many years to come. The “Busch Gardens Cares” initiative is in place to provide these options to the community. As the 2016 season begins on March 20, there is something to look forward to next time you make a purchase at one the park’s fine dining establishments. Park guests will have no idea that any additional food that is not purchased will be donated to an organization like The Grove Outreach Center.

For more information about Busch Gardens Williamsburg, visit: www.buschgardens.com

For more information about Grove Christian Outreach Center, visit: www.groveoutreach.com

For more information about SeaWorld Parks & Entertainment, visit: www.seaworldentertainment.com

Logos and images credits:

Logo courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Feature image courtesy of Busch Gardens Williamsburg

Article prepared by: Brian Mitchell – Site Operator / The Amusement Wire

Disclaimer: The Amusement Wire is not affiliated with the park or attraction mentioned in this article. All photos and video are courtesy of the individual parks or outlets and used for publicity reasons. The Amusement Wire does not own the rights to photos or video used unless otherwise noted.

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