It started with a simple conversation and a job offer. Tim Taggart, director for food and beverage services at the University of Wisconsin, was speaking with Robert Muir, who was then working for Per Mar Security Services. Muir mentioned he had some cooking experience and some time later, Taggart offered Muir a position working for the university as a cook. It was through these discussions that Taggart learned of Porchlight Inc.
Porchlight Inc. is an organization that, according to its mission statement, strives to decrease the Dane County homeless population by providing shelter, housing, supportive services, and a sense of community in ways that empower residents and program participants to positively shape their lives.
Muir began working for the university about six years. Not long after he started, Taggart had a conversation with him that shifted toward food.
I had been thinking about this for a while, Taggart said. What can we do about all this extra food Because I hate just throwing it out. [Muir] got us in touch with the right people [at Porchlight] and within a week of our conversations, our chef Herbert Hackworthy, was talking with their chefs since we have health codes wed like them to meet if theyre going to be cooking our food.
According to Taggart, Porchlight comes and picks up food twice a week while sports are in season. The chefs will separate food between what they can and cant give to the organization.
A lot of the foods from team meals, from a dinner or tailgates, well give it to Porchlight, Taggart said. Well tray them up, put them in a cooler and they come by twice a week and pick them up.
Through the donations of his department alone, Taggart said that Porchlight saves anywhere from $30,000 to $40,000 a year on costs.
According to Porchlights 2008 annual report, its Housing Program offers low-cost housing at 21 Madison and Dane County locations, providing a total of 237 units to families and individuals. In 2008 alone, Porchlight housing served 349 men, women and children. In addition to housing, Porchlight also offers assistance with employment and housing counseling, telephone access, transportation and medical and legal clinics.
Four programs are also offered through Porchlights housing operations. These programs provide housing and counseling for men and women in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction, provide housing and counseling for men that have lost housing due to drug or alcohol addiction, and offer housing and independent living skills primarily for women with mental health issues.
Taggart said that donating to Porchlight gave his department something to focus on.
Were giving something back to the community and it made us feel good about what we were doing, he said. Were able to help people out that need help.
For more information on Porchlight Inc. visit its official website .