a guest post by Neil J. Costello
Did you know that 45% of the students that participate and volunteer with a Campus Kitchen change their career path based on that experience?
In the spring of 2007, I volunteered at the Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga College High School. Like many high school students, I had to complete a certain number of community service hours in order to graduate. While my motives for originally volunteering with the CKP may have been self-centered, what I learned and experienced outside of the kitchen really opened my eyes to a social issue that affects 1 in 6 Americans. Where is their next meal coming from?
During my time with the Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga College High School, I was proud to know that sometimes someone’s next meal was coming from me. During one of my meal deliveries, I knocked on a door and received no answer. Compelled to deliver that meal, I knocked one more time and put my ear to the door in case someone said something. A voice softly asked me to open the door. When I did, I saw an older, heavyset gentleman on oxygen sitting in a wheelchair. I greeted him and told him that I was there to deliver his meal from the Campus Kitchen. Then, the wildest thing happened. While we were talking, he asked if I would like some food. Not really thinking, I instinctively declined in a polite manner; but the gentleman then picked up the meal I had just given him, and told me he would be more than happy to share some of the food with me. I was awestruck. I didn’t need to share that meal, and I am sure he knew that, but he wanted to show his gratitude and appreciation by making this gesture. In that moment, I realized that nothing would ever mean more to me than helping those in need.
Now, six years after my experience as a Campus Kitchen volunteer, I am pursuing a graduate degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at the University of Maryland. I know that my experiences with The Campus Kitchens Project steered me towards pursuing a career in philanthropy and nonprofit management. Those experiences ultimately helped me understand what I want to do with the rest of my life, which is simply to have a positive impact in the lives of others. Thank you CKP!
Wisconsin is not commonly known for its stellar weather. The recent frigid winter was preceded by a record drought Not the kind of weather that gets people dropping in for spring break. A student volunteer who grew up in Oregon told me last week that he had never experienced such gray weather.
Right now, it seems that Milwaukee has a serious case of the ‘grays.’ It has rained on and off for the past couple of days and will continue for a few more. The last of the winter’s snow and ice are melting, but there is a prediction for new snow later in the week. My wool socks are soaked inside of my pink Chuck Taylors. Looking out at our garden now, it looks like the rest of the city – a sad pall of rainy and gross.
Thankfully this sad grayness shall pass, and the evidence is all around us. Daffodils are peaking through on the grounds around the corner from the kitchen. My basement is alight in green with tomato, pepper, eggplant, herb and flower seedlings destined for both the CKMU/Marquette campus garden and my own personal garden. The compost bin, which froze solid when the temperatures dipped to the single digits, has thawed and is ready to be turned to make new soil. And the chives are starting to green up, preparing to flavor yet another season’s worth of food.
Our garden and the hope of summer that it inspires would not be possible without the generous support of our friends and donors in the Marquette community and beyond. So far this year, the Campus Kitchen at Marquette has provided over 5,000 meals to folks served by our 10 partner agencies throughout the city of Milwaukee.
Will you help us continue our much needed work in the community by helping us Raise the Dough for CKMU?
1. Invite 10 people to donate $10 during the campaign by sharing this message by email or on Facebook:
2. Invest in our work by making a donation. Your support will help us provide volunteer opportunities on campus, reduce food waste and create meals for our community. Visit our page here: Raise the Dough for CKMU!
3. Post to your Twitter or Facebook page between April 5-12 to help get the word out!
Example Tweet: Please help me raise $100 by April 12 to support @ckmarquette and #fighthunger! #RaiseDough bit.ly/10zqfvJ
Example Post: Will you help me support the Campus Kitchen at Marquette by making a donation between April 5 and April 12? Check out their great work to end food waste and fight hunger on their fundraising page: bit.ly/10zqfvJ.
Together with your support, we will continue to fight hunger in our community.
As the Community Development Coordinator for The Campus Kitchens Project, I have the privilege of working each day with student leaders that want to start a Campus Kitchen at their school. Seeing the work of our current Campus Kitchens—last year 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.
From my vantage point it is easy to see that this movement is 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. These students are breaking down walls that so often surround the traditional college campus. 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.
One school taking a stand against hunger in their community is Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The 6th largest city in America, Atlanta suffers from ever increasing rates of poverty and hunger. In this community, the overall food insecurity rate is 19.5%–and for children, an even more staggering rate of 23.4% food insecurity. With the need so evident, Georgia Tech found it impossible to ignore and committed to doing their part to make a change.
With our know-how and experience, and a little funding support from donors like you, they will soon be ready to launch the next Campus Kitchen.
One student leading the push, Sophia Rashid, commented, “Georgia Tech’s motto is ‘Progress and Service, defining a unique campus culture of dynamism, innovation, sustainability, and consciousness.’ In this way, the Campus Kitchens Project is the perfect framework, and the natural next step, to empower our local and broader community.” Collaborating with existing student groups, faculty and Sodexo staff on campus, this group of student leaders has realized that creating a Campus Kitchen on campus is the best possible way for Georgia Tech to use their assets to meet the needs of the Atlanta community. I am excited to see where they can take this program in the future and also excited to continue to work with other schools interested in joining our network!
To support the Campus Kitchens Project in our efforts to expand to more schools, please visit our fundraising page during the Raise the Dough Challenge, April 5-12.