Month June 2014

The Campus Kitchens Project: Growing a Movement

How Do You Grow a Movement?

That is the question The Campus Kitchens Project is asking right now as we work towards growing our network of Campus Kitchens throughout the next year.

The Campus Kitchens Project (CKP) is a national non-profit that empowers student leaders to create innovative and sustainable solutions to hunger. CKP students rescue food that would have gone to waste from their on-campus dining hall cafeterias and use that food to prepare and serve balanced nutritious meals to food insecure residents in their communities. Students involved in Campus Kitchens learn to see wasted resources as a sustainable solution to community issues and gain valuable service learning and leadership experiences, which build upon and enhance their work in the classroom and in future careers. Each Campus Kitchen goes beyond meals by using food as a tool to promote poverty solutions, implement garden initiatives, participate in nutrition education, and convene food policy events.

As the Community Development Coordinator for CKP, I have the privilege of working each day with student leaders that want to start a Campus Kitchen at their school. Seeing the huge impact of our current Campus Kitchens last year alone—33 campuses across the country, recovering over 400,000 pounds of food that would otherwise have gone to waste and turning it into more than 250,000 meals—inspires us to grow our network and increase our impact in even more communities across the country.  In addition to what we are already doing, we are excited to have more than 70 additional schools currently working with us to get a Campus Kitchen started on their campus soon! Here at CKP, we realize that to grow a movement of student powered hunger relief, we can’t act alone—it is only through our amazing partnerships (like with UFWH) that we are able to share what we do with more and more colleges and universities across the country.

From my vantage point it is easy to see that this movement is already growing and that students, staff and faculty are passionate about finding ways to reduce waste on campus and meet the food insecurity needs in their communities. They understand that the worldwide issue of hunger can oftentimes also be found in their own backyard. These students are breaking down walls that so often surround the traditional college campus and using their existing assets to foster mutually beneficial relationships in their communities. On the one hand, they see hunger; and on the other, they see food going to waste on campus and dining halls with state of the art commercial kitchens sitting dark in the evenings. And they are ready to do something about it.

If hunger and food insecurity are issues in your community and you want to make an impact on both the community need and the students on campus, consider starting a Campus Kitchen chapter at your school. CKP will be hosting an online info session for anyone interested in learning more about Campus Kitchens and how to start one on their campus on Wednesday, July 31st at 3PM (EST). To register for this webinar, go here! Help us continue to grow this movement together!

This post was written by Matt Schnarr, Community Development Coordinator of The Campus Kitchens Project.