WSU Dining Services serves firefighters in Colfax

PULLMAN — As firefighters worked to put out the fire near Colfax this past week, WSU Dining Services crews fired up their grills. 

The message to help get meals to the fire crews began with Pullman Mayor Glenn Johnson, who was at the fire Thursday evening. The information was then relayed to Mark Janowski, emergency coordinator for Whitman County; to Chris Tapfer, WSU’s emergency management coordinator; and to Liz Khosravi, associate director of Dining Services, who, in turn, asked Eric Webb, the general manager for Dining Services, to organize his crews at Stephenson Dining.

On short notice, Webb got his executive chefs coordinated and called in extra workers to start preparing meals. “Our staff started stepping up for the cause and put in extra time,” he said. 

Webb said there were about 10 to 12 staff and four or five students who helped, including one student volunteer from Colfax who just wanted to help the community. 

Dining Services delivered three meals a day to Colfax High School to feed 150 firefighters. We started with Friday’s lunch and finished up with Sunday’s lunch, Khosravi said. 

“Providing meals for 150 people wasn’t a stretch, when we have the capability to cook for mass quantity,” Khosravi said.  

The firefighters had been eating sandwiches for three days, Khosravi said, and were excited when hot food was served on Friday. 

During the weekend, Webb was constantly on the phone organizing the meals. “It was a day-to-day, meal-to-meal situation,” Webb said. “We put our vendors on alert so they could get us what we needed on short notice.”
 
The hungry firefighters feasted on roasted chicken, mashed potatoes, corn on the cob, biscuits, fruit salads and even a salad bar for dinner. Hot breakfasts consisted of eggs, bacon, biscuits and gravy, and plenty of coffee, Webb said. For lunch, sack lunches were prepared and taken to the fire site. 

Webb said the fire crews were very positive and thankful for the meals. “These crews have been working on fires all summer and several said it was the best food they had eaten,” he said. 

Webb said he was amazed how individuals rose to the occasion for a worthy cause. “It was very impressive, and I think our staff felt good about doing their part,” he said.

“The fire crews are busy protecting our homes and lives,” Khosravi said. “Putting meals together was just one way that we could help.”

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