In South Carolina, free pasta for school fundraisers

The StateSeptember 30, 2011 

Mama Mia!

The American Italian Pasta Co. — whose behemoth plant in Columbia churns out a full one-quarter of all the pasta consumed in the United States — is donating hundreds of pounds of its Mueller’s pasta to any public school in South Carolina that wants to have a spaghetti night fundraising event.

Organizers say the final count could add up to one of the largest food donations in the state’s history.

“We committed to backing education in South Carolina,” said Sarah Lawrence, the plant’s human resources manager. “And our focus is on helping the students.”

The first-ever effort was organized by South Carolina Future Minds, which seeks to match generous companies and individuals with the state’s public schools. It backs programs such as the state’s Teacher of the Year.

“We try to make it easy for folks to help public schools,” said Trip DuBard, the organization’s executive director. “They have spaghetti. Schools love spaghetti nights. Hopefully it will become a community event.”

There are 1,200 public schools in South Carolina, educating about 700,000 kids, he said.

So far, 25 schools from Greenville to Georgetown have signed up for the program; but, DuBard said he expects quite a few more once the word gets out.

Pasta plant manager Joe Johnson estimated that the donation to each school would be about 200 pounds. So if each school participated, that would total 240,000 pounds of spaghetti.

Seem like a lot? It’s a drop in the pasta bowl for American Italian.

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