Campus Kitchens Project — Group

Auburn University, Auburn, AL 

Photo of Student representatives from the Campus Kitchen Project with their Spirit of Sustainability Award. Pictured from left to right are: Alexis Skarupa, Hallie Nelson, Lauren Chastain, Jessica Polk, Rachael Gamlin (front), and Austin Zinkle, Daniel Cason (back).
Student representatives from the Campus Kitchen Project with their Spirit of Sustainability Award. Pictured from left to right are: Alexis Skarupa, Hallie Nelson, Lauren Chastain, Jessica Polk, Rachael Gamlin (front), and Austin Zinkle, Daniel Cason (back).

The student-led Campus Kitchens Project (CKP-AU) fights hunger on campus and within the Auburn community by redistributing food that would otherwise be wasted. In collaboration with academic and outreach programs, campus dining, and seven community organizations, students donate their time to provide meals that feed those in need and minimize food waste.

CKP-AU requires a significant commitment of time and motivation by its students to maintain the chapter’s certification, organize its activities, and to fulfill its weekly food distribution obligations. The project had to pass a rigorous review process to become initially chartered and volunteers must complete mandatory food safety training and meet public health standards.

Student leaders oversee a variety of tasks: the collection of unserved food from campus dining halls, safe storage of food, food preparation safety documentation, management of cooking shifts, fundraising, and recruitment of students to volunteer for meal packaging and distribution. To date more than 800 student volunteers have participated. During the 2013-14 school year CKP-AU volunteers contributed 1,236 hours toward hunger relief.

CKP-AU has expanded the number of collaborations with local food distributors, reclaiming additional unserved food and increasing the number of meals distributed on campus and in the community. These efforts have resulted in the recovery of almost 8,000 pounds of food annually. CKP-AU prepared 5,494 meals in the 2013-2014 year, adding more than $52,000 in economic value to the community. More than 350 individuals are served through the program in the Auburn-Opelika area.

CKP-AU originated as an academic course project on food security in the College of Human Sciences, and evolved to become the first Campus Kitchens national affiliate in Alabama. The initiative has been successfully operating for 3 years and is a major contributor to other hunger relief efforts on campus and across the state. CKP-AU members supported initiatives such as the campus food pantry, and an international hunger summit held on Auburn’s campus. CKP-AU helped start a school food backpack program for which the organization received a national award. CKP-AU has also assisted the establishment of new Campus Kitchens chapters at two other state universities.