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Sodexo employees from the Combat Center’s mess halls prepare meals for disadvantaged Twentynine Palms residents April 11 at the Little Church of the Desert.

Photo by Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Dunn

Combat Center personnel help feed the hungry

11 Apr 2009 | Lance Cpl. Nicholas M. Dunn

Marines from the Combat Center’s Lance Cpl. Chance R. Phelps Mess Hall teamed up with Sodexo employees from the base to prepare food for disadvantaged Twentynine Palms citizens at the Little Church of the Desert, April 11.

The effort to abolish hunger in the community is part of a worldwide Sodexo initiative called the Sodexo Foundation, which was founded in 1999, said Kleo Leopoldo, the food service manager at Phelps Hall.

“Every year, 35.5 million people go hungry in America,” he said. “When I learned that, I thought it should be our turn to get out there and serve the community.”

The day’s menu included barbecue ribs, mashed potatoes and gravy, baked beans and salad with Italian dressing. Brownies, cookies and fruit cocktails were served for dessert. A children’s meal was also included, which included chicken nuggets, macaroni and cheese, corn and an ice-cream-pop for dessert.

Doug Lonsinger, who regularly visits the Little Church of the Desert, also provided an impromptu piano performance at the request of the parishioners and attendees, which received roars of applause.

Leopoldo, who organized the event, said the volunteers are also helping the Twentynine Palms Food Pantry with their canned food drive, which runs throughout the month of April.

Sodexo also provided and delivered 50 food trays through the local Meals on Wheels program.

“This is a great opportunity to show our partnership with the military and to serve our community,” Leopoldo said. “We’re out there serving the Marines every day and now we’re out there in the community stopping hunger in Twentynine Palms.”

Master Sgt. Anthony Butler, the Phelps Hall military mess hall manager and 7th Marine Regiment mess chief, said he was proud to be working with Sodexo and helping the community.

“To me, it’s an honor to be a part of something this important,” Butler said. “To see the impact we have on other people’s lives is very rewarding.

“No matter where you are or where you go, there are a lot of hungry people out there,” he said. “This is a good deed; it really is.”

Leopoldo said car washes were also held April 17 behind both mess halls to help raise money to fight hunger. All profits made will go to the Sodexo Foundation.

“It feels really good to be able to get out there and help others in need,” he said. “I tell all my employees that anyone, regardless of age, can make a difference in their community.”

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Marine Corps Air Ground Combat Center Twentynine Palms