IF JESUS Christ was able to feed 5,000 people with just five loaves of bread and two pieces of fish, food providers for the 51st International Eucharistic Congress (IEC) are faced with a herculean task of feeding 15,000 delegates and 6,000 volunteers and participants for a week.
Serving pork, beef, chicken, fish and vegetables, the IEC Food Committee makes sure the culinary needs of the delegates, local and foreign alike, are well taken care of.
Ernesto Chua, who heads the IEC’s Food Committee, told Sun.Star Cebu that it took them three years to plan what they were going to feed the delegates.
To help them with their task, they hired 11 caterers, pastry providers and food suppliers.
Chua said they often inspect food prepared by the caterers and the commissaries where the food is prepared.
Caterers also attended various seminars, including one on food handling.
Aside from food preparation, Chua said they also briefed caterers in terms of spiritual knowledge through catechism.
Chua said that during initial stages of preparing for the IEC, they focused on what the delegates want to eat during the congress.
Majority of the delegates are Asian, particularly Filipinos, so rice must be on the menu, he said.
He said they also tasked caterers to cook food with less oil and salt as majority of the delegates are middle-aged.
Chua said they have no problem feeding other foreign delegates.
“We have no problem feeding them as they come here to the country to taste our food. Also, since our country has experienced different types of culinary styles over the years, our food has also evolved,” he said.
Once they identified what the delegates wanted, the food committee immediately came up with a seven-day menu.
Caterers were given a daily theme as guide.
Chua admitted that they faced challenges along the way.
One hurdle they had to handle was the sudden transfer of their food distribution areas due to weather changes.
They also had to contend with a food shortage, he said.
To address the problem, he said they called on fastfood chains that committed to help the IEC.
Aside from the food, organizers in charge of logistics have been working diligently to provide for the delegates’ needs.
Fr. Brian Brigoli, chairman of the 51st IEC’s Committee on Venues, said they tapped Cebu-based Sheen Trade to provide 16,000 plastic chairs for P45 per chair, per day.
Sheen Trade has also provided 1,400 metal barriers for the IEC.
IEC organizers also acquired 10,000 chairs from a separate supplier.