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Big Y, Carando host free lunch at Barnes

Date: 12/23/2014

WESTFIELD – Big Y and Carando Classic Italian Foods played host to a Christmas lunch for the men and women of the Barnes Air National Guard Base on Dec. 19. The two local companies came together and provided a meal of ham, potatoes, green beans, pies and cookies for about 300 service men and women.

The meal took place on the base and was free for service men and women, as well as their families, as part of the Carando Cares program. This is the second time that Big Y and Carando have teamed up for a holiday meal, serving Springfield’s firefighters a Christmas meal last year, according to Carando brand manager Mike Sargent.

Sargent said that the program allows the Springfield company to lend a hand in the community, especially for those in the service.

“I’m looking forward to giving back to the men and women who give us our freedom,” Sargent said.

While Sargent enjoyed giving his time, the men and women of Barnes were thankful for it. The cafeteria was decorated with red and green tables clothes and miniature trees, and workers from both Big Y and Carando served up the meal.    

Adrianne Johnson, a staff sergeant in the Force Support Squadron said that she appreciated the event and the time that employees of both companies volunteered.

Above all, however, knowing that the community came together for them was what touched her most about the luncheon.

“I think it’s great that people from the community are coming to support us. It shows a great sense of pride and a strong sense of unity. It’s heartwarming to know that the community supports our mission,” Johnson said.

Johnson was not alone in her gratitude. As men and women of the Air National Guard were served, they smiled and echoed Johnson’s thanks for the meal and the support. 

While this was the first time for a Carando Cares event at the Barnes Air National Guard Base, Sargent said it went well, and people were pleased with the food.

Carando also provided a free gift bag with t-shirts, hats and samples of their Italian meats for those who attended the event, as well as 34 gift bags for families of deployed service men and women, Sargent said. Those bags were filled with a ham, a Big Y pie, side dishes and a toy.    

Vice President and General Manager of Carando Dan Incaudo said it is all part of the program’s mission.

“It’s good to give back. We’re part of this community too, so it’s important for us to give back,” Incaudo said.