In 2017, Lakewood Country Club developed a fruitful partnership with the local Meals on Wheels program.
“A country club is a small community that resides within a larger one,” says Christopher Hampton, General Manager/COO of Lakewood Country Club. With this in mind, Lakewood continually looks for ways to give back to the larger community in Westlake, Ohio, where the club is located.
In 2017, the club developed a partnership with the local Meals on Wheels (MOW) program. The idea came from Hampton’s wife, Betsy, a pastry chef by trade who had begun volunteering at MOW to prepare desserts. After she became a board member for the organization, she assisted in cultivating the relationship with Lakewood CC.
“We chose MOW because we thought it would be a great way to give Westlake residents a chance to experience the club in the comfort of their own homes, by tasting meals from our talented culinary team,” Hampton says.
Initially, the goal was for Lakewood CC to provide meals on a quarterly basis for each of the more than 65 residents in Westlake who are signed up for the program. For winter, staff prepared roasted turkey a la king, cheddar mashed potatoes, and a vegetable medley for the hot meal; a salad trio with chicken, tuna and egg salad over mixed greens, and a side of fruit, for the cold meal; and a peppermint trifle for dessert. A personalized greeting card from the club was also included.
At first, Hampton says, MOW’s local director envisioned bringing one of Lakewood CC’s chefs to the kitchen as a “guest chef” for a day, so volunteers could work with a culinary professional and gain some insights into running a commercial kitchen.“As a club, we decided to take it one step further,” Hampton reports. “We sent a culinary team to assist the MOW volunteers with meal preparation for a day, but also provided the food for the organization’s meal delivery.”
To give MOW volunteers plenty of opportunity to work with and learn from Lakewood CC’s culinary staff, the club does as much work as possible in the MOW kitchen, with a small amount of prep work done in the club’s kitchen the day before, to ensure an on-time meal delivery (all meals have to leave the MOW kitchen by 10:30 a.m.).
With the program growing in popularity, more Lakewood staff members have expressed interest in getting involved, Hampton says, and the club plans to rotate team members to join the culinary staff at the MOW kitchen.“We hope to continue and possibly expand our quarterly meal program, but more importantly, we hope to inspire other organizations within our community to give back to MOW and other charitable and humanitarian organizations,” he says. “It is important for neighbors to take care of neighbors.”