MORGANTOWN — You might see some friendly, familiar faces if you attend a football game at West Virginia University this season. Five Hampshire High School athletic clubs are slated to sell concessions at the matches this fall in exchange for a percentage of the revenue.
The HHS “football, boys basketball, volleyball, girls soccer and baseball teams” will all be participating in the fundraising effort at Mountaineer Field in Morgantown says athletic director Trey Stewart. The University — who partners with Sodexo’s Sports and Leisure arm to cater the games — offers the opportunity to high school and other non-profit groups to help with club related costs. “We actually got the idea from Frankfort,” said Stewart.
In fact, at most sporting venues nationwide –– college and pro –– it’s common practice to offer some type of similar volunteer food server incentive program.
It takes more than a willingness to work, however. “Each participating group member must pass a food-handlers examination in order to be certified,” according to Laura Bealko, West Virginia University’s general manager of Sodexo. The local health department administers the exam, which is only good at WVU facilities.
Once the groups are certified they can work at as many events as they like. Sodexo has also started incentive programs that give a larger profit share to groups that make season long commitments, like HHS has done. They can even earn additional money if they refer another group.
It’s not just sports teams that work at the games though –– student organizations, booster groups, churches, 4H, school bands and other non-profits from all walks of life volunteer. Charitable donations from WVU’s athletic concession services “typically pay out over six figures to all the volunteer groups in any given year,” Bealko stated. Bealko added, “We hear a lot of local organizations don't partake in this because folks come to watch the games, so many of the groups we get come from Pennsylvania and Maryland.
Organizations serving up snacks receive prominent placement on food menu boards so you know where the money for that hotdog and soft drink will go.
As for the Trojans’ earnings, “All the money made by the 5 HHS teams will go towards purchasing of new equipment,” Stewart concluded.
Mountaineer football season kicks off at 2 p.m. Aug. 31 at home verses the James Madison Dukes. o