Linda Creighton

Former Summer Games athlete pays it forward with food

Linda Creighton, director of food services for the 2012 Summer Games in Surrey, competed in softball in Nanaimo in 1985.

These certainly aren’t the Hunger Games: Athletes attending the 2012 BC Summer Games in Surrey will be well-nourished.

But it’s a huge feat, considering that 32,000 meals will be made over four days to fuel 2,000-plus teenagers.

At the helm of this culinary operation is Linda Creighton, director of food services for the 2012 Summer Games. It marks the second time she has been drafted by the BC Games Society for this role.

In 2010, Creighton pulled off what she refers to as the “Miracle on 56th Avenue” at the Summer Games in Langley.

When you factor in food allergies – gluten, dairy, nuts and shellfish, to name but four requests she has received – Creighton is jumping through hoops to please adolescent palates.

“It’s really just showing people that you don’t have to compromise on flavour to make a healthy meal,” she says.

Lucky for athletes of these Games, Creighton comes with 25 years of food industry experience under her belt. She has also deputized executive chef Dwayne Botchar who “quarterbacks in the kitchen.”

A “MASH-style” makeshift kitchen will be set up at the back of the Cloverdale Arena. Two tents will house the food preparation area and the slick workhorses of the operation: three professional-grade convection ovens that will cook 280 turkey breast roasts in three hours.

“I would give up my car for one of these ovens,” laughs Creighton.

When it comes to sourcing the food – including 15,000 apples, 12,000 cartons of milk and 4,000 lbs. of deli meats – Creighton also has sustainability on the brain.

“We are definitely working towards being a green Games,” she says. “A big part of the Games is our legacy.”

And that legacy includes donating any unused food to Surrey non-profits to distribute to those in need.

Creighton is just one of 550 local volunteers offering to cook food, clean dishes, set up tables and basically make sure the athletes have enough to eat. Her reason to volunteer an immeasurable amount of hours ties back to sport and the BC Summer Games itself.

In 1985, Creighton played softball in the BC Summer Games in Nanaimo and recalls the impression it made on her.

“I remember how much fun it was, and meeting people from all over,” she says. “l remember the food – and I remember medical services and how the volunteers looked after us.”


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