(Columbus, March 6, 2020) — When life gives Columbus lemons, the Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC) regroups to send chicken salad and more to tornado victims in Nashville.

When COVID-19 virus concerns resulted in an Ohio Department of Health order prohibiting general spectators from attending the 2020 Arnold Sports Festival in customary fashion, the GCCC had to consider what to do with food ordered to accommodate the more than 200,000 people annually attending the event.

A refrigerated truck will depart from the GCCC loading docks today about 3 p.m. to arrive tomorrow morning at Nissan Stadium, home of the Tennessee Titans football team, for the purpose of serving a meal to more than 2,000 first responders Saturday evening.

“While we were waiting for the press conference to start on Tuesday regarding the Arnold Sports Festival, all the news coverage was about the tornado in Nashville,” said Molly Dale, general manager for Levy, the GCCC’s food service provider.  “We thought that if the Arnold Sports Festival situation unfolds the way we think it will, we wanted something positive to happen to the food that could not be repurposed.”

Knowing that many restaurants in Columbus would be donating leftover food to local charities, the GCCC decided to send its excess food to a site affected by a natural disaster – Nashville.

Driving separately to Nashville to help unload the truck, prepare and serve the meal are Executive Chef Matt Smith, Executive Sous Chef Shannon Gerasimchik and Pastry Chef Stephanie DeCaprio. They will return to Columbus Sunday morning.

The food donation includes chicken salad sandwiches, egg salad sandwiches, mixed green salad, fresh fruit, yogurt, vegetable medley, brown rice, potato chips and bottled water.  The donation is estimated to weigh more than a ton.

The Levy team members from Columbus contacted Levy’s executive chef at Nissan Stadium in Nashville, Mark Lloyd, to offer their assistance. Lloyd connected the Columbus team to the field operations director of Operation BBQ Relief to develop a plan. 

“We’re accustomed to accommodating everchanging client needs at the GCCC. When the unique circumstances affecting the Arnold Sports Festival this year came to fruition, we were proud to be able to send excess food to assist Nashville residents impacted by true devastation while we focus our efforts here on supporting the Arnold Sports Festival in its revised format,” said GCCC General Manager John R. Page. “This special effort augments our catering partner’s existing charitable practice of providing food donations to Food Rescue locally throughout the year.”

  • Greater Columbus Convention Center Reactivation Strategy
    Attendee and guest health and safety is the top priority of the ASM Global managed Greater Columbus Convention Center (GCCC). The GCCC has developed a comprehensive and sustainable cleaning, training, and safety guide to lead our reactivation efforts and facility operation moving forward. The GCCC REACTIVATION AND SARS-CoV-2 MITIGATION PLAN has been crafted and informed by ASM’s VenueShield® program. Click here for more information.