Metz Culinary Management gifts $10k to Stillman Foundation Community Garden

Expanded garden to help stock collards for campus cafeteria, distribute to community

TUSCALOOSA, Ala. – Stillman College’s on-campus food service provider has made a commitment to the college’s efforts to fight food insecurity and promote sustainability.

Metz Culinary Management and Stillman announced Friday a $10,000 gift to help expand the Stillman Foundation Community Garden, which launched this spring in a plot adjacent to campus. The additional space will be used to grow collard greens for use at Stillman’s on-campus cafeteria and to distribute to families in Tuscaloosa’s West End through a cooperative relationship with Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church, the site for family food distribution.

Three black men and a white woman pose in front of a community garden
Representatives from Stillman College Friday accept a check from Metz Culinary Management to help expand the Stillman Foundation Community Garden. Pictured from left: Tyler Davidson, director of development, Stillman College; Dr. Gordon Govens, executive director of faith-based and social justice initiatives, Stillman College; Jamie Beazley, district manager, Metz Culinary Management; and James Hollingshed, general manager, Metz Culinary Management, Stillman College.

According to Feeding America, 14% of residents and 18% of children in Tuscaloosa County are food insecure. The issue is exacerbated in Tuscaloosa’s West End, where residents have a median household income of under $26,000, according to the 2020 census.

“Metz Culinary Management embraces a strong spirit of community by living our values in the service of others,” said Dennis Daley, higher education divisional vice president for Metz. “This donation reinforces our commitment to sustainability, provides access to hyperlocal produce to our guests, and extends our partnership with Stillman College to the greater Tuscaloosa community.”

Dr. Gordon A. Govens, executive director of Faith-Based and Social Justice Initiatives at Stillman, said addressing the food desert in Tuscaloosa’s West End through the partnership with Metz and Brown Memorial is vital to growing the college’s service reach and inspiring other community institutions to participate in social justice causes.

“This initiative furthers Stillman College’s Matthew 25 commitment to ‘actively participate in the world around us by boldly and compassionately serving people who are hungry, oppressed, imprisoned or poor,’” Govens said. “In this way, Metz, Stillman and Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church not only feed the physical body but also the spiritual hearts of those we serve and those who serve others.”

Stillman’s community garden started on campus with a small plot located off Geneva Drive. After a year of cultivating and harvesting, the scope of the garden grew in Spring 2022 thanks to increased financial support from Love Grows Here and School Yard Roots, among other community partners. The garden is located at 37th Street and Stillman Boulevard, and the plot is currently 180 feet by 57 feet. The garden contains corn, peas, melons, root vegetables, collards, tomatoes, and blueberries, among other fruits and vegetables.

“At Stillman College, we are committed to launching initiatives that serve the campus and the community,” Warrick said. “What a blessing to be able to serve families in West Tuscaloosa with cooked meals and freshly grown fruits and vegetables in partnership with Brown Memorial Presbyterian Church and our campus dining partner, Metz Culinary.”