Annual 'Savor the Taste' doubles as food drive

The fourth annual “Savor the Taste” event in Riverdale doubles as a food drive, this year, with donations to benefit an organization that targets local youths.

The Psi Alpha Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, which serves Henry and Clayton counties, will host Savor the Taste at Riverdale Town Center. Vendors from across the Southern Crescent will compete for King of Chops, said sorority spokeswoman, Stephanie Oliver.

The event will start at 1 p.m., and end at 4 p.m. Advance tickets are $15 for adults and children older than 10. Tickets at the door will be $20. Children 4-10 can get in for $5, and children 3 and younger are admitted free.

Oliver said each chef will prepare a dish of meats, sides, soups or sweets.

"During the event, participants will sample dishes and rate each dish to determine which chef will become the King of Chops," she said.

Participants can also browse the vendor section for products and services.

"This is a great opportunity for business owners to showcase merchandise or talk about services offered to the community," she said.

Among the vendors expected are Divinitee, Pampered Chef, Fatnots, Diamond Girlz Tees, Boa Accessories, NinaSimone Accessories, Bouvier Jewelry, Ambrosia Expressions, Cruise One, Committee to Elect Shana Rooks, and Mary Grace Essentials.

Profits from Savor the Taste fund a scholarship program that benefits Clayton and Henry students. Since 2006, the chapter has awarded more than $10,000 in scholarships to young men and women in those counties. Applications are available at each county's high schools and on the chapter's web site.

At the same event, donated food items will be accepted on behalf of Hearts to Nourish Hope, a local organization that provides a safe, drug-free and non-violent environment for young people. Students run the food pantry as part of a community service project.

Most-needed food items include peanut butter, soups, tuna, beans, canned vegetables, canned fruits, pasta, rice, cereal, canned or powdered milk, crackers and instant potatoes.

The pantry cannot accept items in glass containers, perishable food items, home canned or baked goods.

Psi Alpha Omega was chartered in December 2005 under Alpha Kappa Alpha, the oldest Greek-lettered service organization in the country. In Henry County, the sorority partners with Laurel Park Nursing Home to provide supplies for residents. Sorority sisters also visit the home to host Bingo games, and a Christmas celebration in December.

The Henry sisters also volunteer with Hands of Hope Clinic to provide free medical and dental care for uninsured and under-served residents.

In Clayton County, sisters partner with Rainbow House, a children's shelter, to provide activities and workshops. Some activities include etiquette lessons, budgeting and situational skits. Fun activities also include movies, and arts and crafts.

Hearts to Nourish Hope impacts more than 1,000 youths annually in programs such as the Alternative Education Center, the Suspension Center, Internship/Work Experience, the high school after-school program, the Evening Reporting Center, counseling, the food pantry, drama, art and video technology summer apprenticeships, and special community programs.

The Riverdale-based, non-profit agency got started about 17 years ago.