Most of us can still name that one teacher. The one who made us care about reading; think science was fascinating; discover that George Washington was actually a mapmaker. If you’re like me, you find yourself surprised that education can transport you to a different time and, occasionally, a different place; sometimes quite literally.
We’re lucky enough to have one such professor include DC Central Kitchen as a part of his homework. Every year, as part of his first-year seminar on the literature of homelessness, Gettysburg College professor Chris Fee brings students to DC Central Kitchen where they learn how to make a difference… and a mean berry cobbler.
As part of a four-day service project, Dr. Fee’s students create meals for those in need using “surplus” food. Food that area restaurants, hotels and farms can’t sell or use but is perfectly healthy and tasty. It’s the same concept that fuels our Campus Kitchens Project, which combines student volunteers with campus kitchens during their off hours to provide needed food in 20 states nation-wide.
Almost nine years ago, Dr. Fee’s service project so impressed Gettysburg students, they went home intent on launching a Campus Kitchen. Today, their kitchen serves more than 700 meals each month to children, seniors and families working their way out of poverty. The Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College was recently awarded the 2012 Secretary’s Award for Excellence in Nutrition for Older Pennsylvanians through the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Department of Aging.
I get to see that same spark in volunteers at DC Central Kitchen every day. There’s incredible power in doing something great or small for someone else. It reminds us that individuals can create change and together we can make a difference in the hearts and minds of the community. Not only do you learn about the assigned subject, you learn a little about yourself in the process.
Mike Curtin is the Chief Executive Officer for DC Central Kitchen and The Campus Kitchens Project.