Two days a week, inside the bustling dining hall at Shenandoah University, a group of students suit up to combat food insecurity. The students are a part of the Campus Kitchen Shenandoah University Chapter (CKSU), a national organization that empowers student volunteers to fight hunger and food waste in their community.
Since coming to Shenandoah’s campus in 2017, the organization has tripled its impact on the Winchester community. During the fall 2018 semester, CKSU engaged nearly 200 volunteers and packaged over 1,300 meals for those in need.
“Campus Kitchens is such an amazing group of young adults. You will never know how much delight it brings to the tummies of our hungry clients. The project is wonderful because it helps others by providing food and preventing food waste too.” said Frances Salmon, the President of Congregational Community Action Project (C-CAP), a local organization that receives the packaged meals. “I’m just amazed with all this group is doing and that they desire to do even more. I’m so proud of this beautiful partnership and thanks so much Campus Kitchens Team. They all amaze me.”
Kaitlyn Shand and Grace Thompson, Co-Presidents of the CKSU and undergraduate students, oversee the weekly operations. Kaitlyn said she serves because everyone deserves to smile and be happy. “Since I have so much to be thankful for and to smile for, I want others to feel the same, so service helps me express my inner joy to the people at C-CAP. I grew up very blessed and did not have to worry about where my next meal would come from, so delivering to C-CAP and seeing the individuals and families who receive the packaged meals makes me realize truly how lucky I am. Campus Kitchens takes advantage of the fortune we as students are given and is able to express our gratitude and means in the form of meals.”
The Campus Kitchens Project is a national organization founded in 2001. The organization is active on 58 university and high school campuses across the country where students transform unused food from dining halls, grocery stores, restaurants, and farmers’ markets into meals that are delivered to local agencies serving those in need.
By taking the initiative to run a community kitchen, students develop entrepreneurial and leadership skills, along with a commitment to serve their community, that they will carry with them into 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.
In April of 2018, CKSU was one of 15 universities chosen to receive a grant from Sodexo’s Stop Hunger Foundation. Shenandoah University was also awarded a $5,000 grant to help fight hunger in the community by participating in a nationwide video challenge. CKSU is supported by Sodexo, the school’s dining services provider, and the Center for Public Service and Scholarship.
Volunteers do not have to be students to be involved with the Campus Kitchen. While the majority of regular volunteers are members of the campus community, the organization welcomes anyone who wants to participate in a group packaging shift.
Learn more about the national organization by visiting www.campuskitchens.org. Anyone interested in volunteering should contact Kaitlyn Shand at firstname.lastname@example.org.