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Allegheny

30-foot inflatable cheese wedge floats rivers for hunger awareness

| Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2018, 5:06 p.m.
This 30-foot inflatable cheese sculpture will be docked at Point State Park through Friday to raise awareness for hunger/.
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This 30-foot inflatable cheese sculpture will be docked at Point State Park through Friday to raise awareness for hunger/.

Move over rubber duck, the big cheese is in town.

Station Square’s The Melting Pot restaurant and 412 Food Rescue launched a 30-foot inflatable Swiss cheese wedge Wednesday that will travel on Pittsburgh’s three rivers to create awareness about and provide support for the hungry in the region. The inflatable cheese will dock Thursday and Friday at Point State Park.

The homage to fromage, which was held up Wednesday for several hours due to a barge traffic jam, is also part of The Melting Pot’s grand reopening. The fondue restaurant, which had been closed for several weeks, relocated to a new 6,000-square-foot spot at 242 West Station Square Drive, and will officially reopen to the public on Thursday.

“We wanted to build awareness about our grand reopening — and we thought a larger-than-life cheese sculpture will capture people’s attention,” said Chris Millsap, an operating partner of The Melting Pot.

Most Pittsburghers remember the 40-foot rubber duck that floated up and down the three rivers in 2013.

The rival cheese sculpture — which will travel around Pittsburgh’s three rivers and the Golden Triangle through Friday—is also aimed at drawing attention to a partnership between The Melting Pot and 412 Food Rescue. The latter is a food recovery organization that distributes donated food to families in the region who are facing food insecurity.

“We rescue surplus food that can’t be sold and distribute it to organizations that fight hunger in the community,” said Jennifer England, 412 Food Rescue’s program director for food recovery operations. “Even a small tray of sandwiches can make a huge difference for a few individuals.”

England said that 412 Food Rescue works with organizations that operate drop-in centers for the homeless.

“The majority of people facing food insecurity are vulnerable populations — children, seniors, the disabled and veterans,” England said. “And access to anything other than canned or dry goods is difficult. Donations of cheese and other items — fresh produce, protein dairy — is hard to get.”

Millsap said that the fondue restaurant has partnered for three years with 412 Food Rescue to provide support for Western Pennsylvanians facing hunger.

“No one can thrive on an empty stomach,” Millsap said. “Hunger touches every community, including our own.”

Preston Ciranni, who handles marketing for The Melting Pot, said the chain restaurant was the first to reopen following Station Square’s remodeling.

The eatery will have seating for 265 people, an open design layout, an upper-level dining space and a heated outdoor patio. There also will be a dedicated wine tasting area, barrel-aged whiskey and handcrafted, artisanal specialty cocktails.

The inflatable cheese also offers the opportunity for someone to win a year’s worth of fondue. Here’s how it works:

  • Snap a photo of yourself and the Melting Pot cheese” through Friday
  • Post on to the Melting Pot Pittsburgh Facebook page or on Instagram or Twitter (Instagram profile must be public.)
  • Use #SayCheesePGH as a hashtag.

Nathan Duke is a Tribune-Review contributing writer.

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