Robert Kalt Left his job as meeting planner for Johnson & Johnson, New Brunswick, N.J., with a mission: He wanted to find a better way to dispose of all the extra food and goodies at the end of a meeting, rather than dumping them in the garbage. “The event industry has been historically a glut of excess when it comes to the social end of events,” he says.
Kalt's solution? Special E, a small, but growing, business he founded in mid-2006 that arranges for the collection of leftovers from meetings and events and donates them to people or organizations in need.
Planners interested in the service go to www.aspeciale.com and fill out a “Deliver-E” form or get in touch with Special E by e-mail. With the specs in hand, Special E's volunteers coordinate the pick-up information for a growing network of vendors that can get the leftovers to people in need. The idea, says Kalt, is to get food to places such as food banks, flower arrangements to local hospitals, and giveaways such as T-shirts, caps, and sweatshirts to people who can use them.
Food delivery can be the trickiest. If a planner knows in advance that attendance will be off and a substantial amount of food will be left over, Special E will arrange for someone to be on hand at the conclusion of the event. If, on the other hand, the event is fully attended and is held on a weekend night, logistics are more difficult because there is no way to know how much food will be left over. “There will need to be some resource, perhaps the caterer itself, that can keep the leftover food refrigerated until the following day, or Monday, with the knowledge that we'll arrange to pick it up,” says Kalt.
The cost for meeting organizers ranges from $50 to $250 depending on the size of the event and the items being donated. Special E usually won't work with events with fewer than 100 people because there's usually not enough food to make the collection and donation process feasible financially. For more information, visit www.aspeciale.com.