Going Beyond the Meal to Break the Cycle

Post contributed by Kenzley Defler, Office of Sustainability Intern

“Food alone will never end hunger.”

These words spoken by Mike Curtin, Chief Operating Officer of DC Central Kitchen and Alex Moore, Chief Development Officer of The Campus Kitchens Project, resonated with me over the three-day Boot Camp I attended in early August. Traveling to Washington, DC for the conference was an opportunity for myself and fellow student leader Ginny Lampkin to represent Auburn’s Campus Kitchen and learn more to expand our operations in the local community.

Kenzley and Ginny help out in an urban garden during the DC Central Kitchen Boot Camp

DC Central Kitchen is a national nonprofit organization working to end the cycle of poverty and hunger through various programs, such as culinary classes for unemployed individuals and development of grocery stores stocked with healthy options in food deserts. The Campus Kitchens Project (CKP), one of the programs under DC Central Kitchen, focuses more specifically on reducing food waste and ending food insecurity. This work is done in large part by CKP chapters in over 60 schools around the country. The Campus Kitchen at Auburn runs as an entirely student-led project where volunteers pickup food from campus dining halls, package that food into nutritious meals, and distribute the meals to more than 10 community organizations in the Auburn/Opelika area.

Although it may seem counterintuitive at first, the idea that ending hunger requires more than food is actually very true. In my time working with CKP, and especially at CKP Boot Camp this year, I’ve thought a lot about this idea and come to better understand the connection between poverty and hunger. While all aspects of CKP operations are important, and providing meals each day to those in need is making a big difference in the lives of those individuals, Mike Curtin’s statement that “No matter how many meals we serve today, people will still be hungry tomorrow,” speaks for itself. If we want to end the cycle of hunger and poverty, we have to move beyond the meal. Should we at CKP stop delivering meals or as a society stop giving out food in soup kitchens? Absolutely not. However, we need to move beyond food distribution to address a daily need, and also focus on solving the roots of the problem.

Auburn’s CKP has been focusing on moving beyond the meal through development of new programs, outreach events, and educational components. Last fall we hosted a film screening of “Just Eat It: A Food Waste Story” to educate the community about the billions of pounds of food thrown away each year. This year we will be partnering with East Alabama Services for the Elderly (EASE House) in a new initiative focusing on nutrition education and anti-isolation in the senior population. Our goal as a group has become larger than saving food from being thrown into the landfill by redistributing it. Ultimately, we want the work of CKP to do more than provide food to hungry people; we want to help break the cycle between poverty and hunger.

 

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