|February 11, 2010|
New Campus Kitchens project feeds the soul
A good mix: Participants in Campus Kitchens gather for a photo. Pictured in center, front, is Jill Falchi '10.
Hungry families. Heaps of unserved college food. Student leaders who want to get involved in their adopted communities.
It all comes together as Campus Kitchens, and it’s a recipe for success – for combating hunger in towns and cities across the nation.
A Union chapter is now up and running, bringing fresh-cooked meals to the City Mission each Saturday.
“The first day, all kinds of volunteers came to College Park Hall’s beautiful kitchen facility,” said Jillian Falchi ’10 of Ozone House, who launched the program at the end of January with other house members. “We made 150 meals consisting of meatballs, baked ziti, salad and cookies. There was a bit of chaos, but I hope to perfect the process.”
Liz Ryan '10 (Photos by Matt Milless)
“This program fills a big need in our community,” said Dan Detora, director of Dining Services, which is supporting the student-run, nonprofit venture by donating food and a van for meal delivery. “The first weekend was great. We had frozen items that we didn’t need on campus, and the student volunteers, working with one of employees, were able to produce enough food for a large group. The City Mission was thrilled.”
Meghan Haley-Quigley '11, left, and Rachel Guralnick '11.
“Being in college, it’s easy to turn a blind eye toward issues of poverty in our surrounding community,” said Rebecca Robinson ’12, a volunteer. “ This program really makes you open your eyes to what good you can do by not only preserving good food, but also helping others who need a hand.”
Nationwide, Campus Kitchens is now active on about 20 campuses, “training the next generation of leaders to implement innovative new models to combat hunger.” Students plan the menus, salvage the food, cook in shifts and organize the deliveries to their communities.
One of the biggest ingredients for the program’s success is creativity. Much like on television episodes of “Iron Chef” or “Chopped,” the student-cooks must pull together a nutritious, appetizing meal from an assortment of random ingredients each week.
“We try to incorporate a little bit of this or a little bit of that,” said Detora. “One weekend, we had a surplus of peas. We made a vegetarian quiche.”
Hyeon Hwangbo '11, left, and Jackie Tuthill '10, cook up a storm.
All of the participants are certified in food safety, and Union chefs taught students how to calibrate thermometers, handle knives and use cutting boards safely.
With this basic prep out of the way, “now we’re getting more into the meat and potatoes of the program,” Detora said. “In the coming weeks, there’ll be an educational piece on helping the community understand nutrition.”
In addition to Ozone House, student volunteers come from the Environmental Club, TVUC, Culinary House, fraternities and sororities. Don Austin, assistant director of the Kenney Community Center, helped coordinate administrative details with the national Campus Kitchens Project, based in Washington, D.C.
“It is a great feeling to know that we are preserving perfectly good food, as well as putting food on people’s plates,” said Robinson.