As their time with us winds down, we sat down with three of our AmeriCorps VISTAs, Eirann, Sarah, and Emily to reflect on their service year with us.
What brought you to CKP?
Eirann: I was interested in and involved with sustainable food and anti-hunger initiatives throughout college. I realized the tremendous potential that college students have in shaping and influence the anti-hunger movement and I was eager to take a VISTA position with CKP so that I could continue to be a force in the movement, even beyond my college years. I was excited to immerse myself even deeper in the cause and learn more about the non-profit sector, while using my past experiences to influence change.
Sarah: After working as a client manager at a corporate insurance firm, I was searching for a position where I could transition into the non-profit sphere and focus on food justice issues. I have lived in the Chicago area for 15 years, so I was excited to be able to learn more about and serve my own community.
Emily: After I finished my Undergraduate degree I knew I wanted to have some job experience under my belt before starting graduate school. As I was applying for jobs I knew that I wanted to be part of an organization whose missions were aligned with my own. Once I came across the opening at Campus Kitchens I immediately applied, knowing that this would be a good fit.
Where are you headed next?
Eirann: Next year I’ll be living in Paris, obtaining a graduate degree in French through Middlebury College.
Sarah: Either pursue a graduate degree in food policy or move on to another anti-hunger non-profit.
Emily: I’m heading to Europe for a backpacking trip and then applying to jobs in the public sector.
How has CKP impacted your future career?
Eirann: I hope to one day do translation work for a non-profit or NGO in the environmental sector. My time spent with CKP has given me a valuable look into the non-profit world and has provided numerous opportunities to network in the field.
Sarah: Working with CKP in a VISTA capacity has served as a “non-profit boot camp” year for me. I have gained skills in developing and implementing new programs, recruiting and managing volunteers, and researching and creating community resources. It has been an incredibly dynamic experience that has reinforced my career path of working with anti-hunger groups.
Emily: I’m sure that the work I have completed with CKP has influenced me in ways beyond my recognition. CKP has solidified my passion for working with the public in ways that impact their health and wellbeing.
What has been your favorite part of working with CKP?
Eirann: It’s been inspiring to see all of the different angles from which CKP and CKP’s partner institutions combat hunger. By researching the various tactics and strategies that different organizations use, I’ve been able to learn a lot about crafting campaigns and initiatives, and I’ve been able to understand various aspects of the anti-hunger movement in a much deeper manner.
Sarah: My favorite part has been helping our student leadership team to broaden their perspective beyond campus and identify strengths and needs in our community. I have really enjoyed working with them to recruit volunteers and implement nutrition education programs.
Emily: My favorite part of working for CKP has been all the opportunities to meet individuals who have like-minded interests and new perspectives.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Eirann: Trying to facilitate communication between the entire Campus Kitchen VISTA network and finding ways to work together while not in the same location. Also, creating an open channel to share resources throughout the network and not duplicate efforts.
Sarah: The hardest part of my VISTA year was my inability to pilot our new Healthy Living for Families curriculum. While I didn’t find a site that worked for the program, I am very proud of the resources we developed and am excited to leave the new cohort of VISTAs well-equipped to continue our work.
Emily: Doing multiple projects at once!
What projects or curricula have you worked on?
Eirann: I wrote a guide for Campus Kitchens which addresses how they can work with community farmers markets to accept SNAP benefits. I have also compiled a food donation and food use best practice guide, with an accompanying cookbook. Additionally, I worked on writing a new culinary based nutrition education curriculum targeted at families, with Sarah Benedict, the VISTA at CKNU.
Sarah: My two main focuses this year were on nutrition education and SNAP outreach. I personally developed new nutrition education resources for elementary and middle school youth and collaborate on a new program for families with the VISTA in DC. I analyzed the results of our annual client agency survey to develop SNAP and SNAP E&T resources tailored to the needs of their clients.
Emily: I have worked on various projects that address topics, including garden education, SNAP education, nutrition education, volunteer management, volunteer training, volunteer recruitment, updating technologies/practices, management of interns, trainings/orientations, and creating guides.
What was the most surprising part?
Eirann: It is truly impressive that CKP has such an enormous impact despite having so few staff members. This speaks not only to the talented staff’s immense passion for their work, but also to the tremendous power that the students have in affection local and national change. While this isn’t necessarily a surprise, it is still a happy revelation!
Sarah: The biggest surprise, and one of my favorite aspects, has been the connectivity of the national staff. While there are only two individuals in our office at CKNU, weekly check in calls and regular communication with CKP staff and VISTAs in DC, Boston, and Milwaukee have helped to foster collaborative projects and root our work in a broader context.
Emily: Never a dull day at the office!
Interested in joining AmeriCorps? Learn more here.
In January, we set five #ckpresolutions for 2017. Now that we are halfway through the year, we wanted to check in and see how we’re doing with those goals! June is also a perfect time to reflect on your academic year and the goals you set. Share them with us using #ckpresolutions.
1) Grow our community
We were excited to launch five new Campus Kitchens this spring including Shenandoah University, Williams College, Austin Peay State University, James Madison University and our second community college, NorthWest Arkansas Community College. Do you know someone who is interested in starting a Campus Kitchen at their school? Connect them with us today! We have a launch grant competition coming up this fall that is a perfect way to get a new Campus Kitchen up and running!
2) Fight On-Campus Hunger
As part of our partnership with the Rockefeller Foundation and Universities Fighting World Hunger, we created the Trash Hunger, Not Food toolkit. This toolkit will to not only better equip you as a food waste champion, but also to help you mobilize your school to become a hunger-free campus. Another great resource is from our friends at the Wisconsin HOPE Lab and their latest publication: Hungry and Homeless: Results From a National Study of Basic Needs Insecurity in Higher Education. They also created a Guide to Assessing Basic Needs Insecurity in Higher Education to help you take action on your campus. On-campus hunger continues to be a focus of ours and we plan on rolling out additional resources over the next year.
3) Make the 2017 Food Waste & Hunger Summit Our Biggest and Best Yet!
All we can say about this #ckpresolution is thank you! We had a great time at Summit Squared and hope you did too. Weren’t able to attend? Catch up on all the highlights here!
4) Recover Our 7 Millionth Pound of Food
We are well on our way to hitting the 7-Million-pound mark and surpassing it! As of June 5, we have recovered over 6,880,000 pounds of food at more than 60 locations. This year alone, with the help of over 31,000 volunteer hours, we have recovered 390,417 pounds of food and served 152,240 meals. Keep up the great work, #hungerfighters!
5) Build and Grow our Community through the Campus Kitchen Center
We have over 150 schools on the Center, including both current schools and planning schools! This summer, we’ll be rolling out some exciting new updates on The Center, so now is a great time to log on and take a look around. Plus, all points will be reset this summer! Cash your points in for prizes now! Do you have ideas or suggestions for the Center? Feel free to share them with us by e-mailing Annie at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Last fall, a team at NorthWest Arkansas Community College (NWACC) saw a need in their community and were looking for ways to reduce food waste and food insecurity. With five training kitchens, passionate culinary students and willing staff, it made perfect sense to bring a Campus Kitchen to NWACC. The opportunity that CKP provides for connections between the school and community stood out to the faculty and staff at NWACC and Brightwater Culinary School.
“We are so excited to bring all the amazing things people are already doing in the Northwest Arkansas area together through the Campus Kitchen at NorthWest Arkansas Community College,” said Lauren Altimont-Peiser, student adviser and food recovery project overseer for Brightwater. “Working with local nonprofits, volunteers, and businesses that are passionate about helping people makes this project extremely dynamic. We can’t wait to see how it will evolve and grow from here.”
The Campus Kitchen at NorthWest Arkansas Community College (CKNWACC) joined our national network this week with a volunteer cooking shift and celebration lunch. Volunteers prepared approximately 80 healthy meals using recovered food from Seeds that Feed, the Downtown Rogers Farmers Market, and Tricycle Farms, and delivered them to three income-based senior housing centers in Northwest Arkansas. This event also kicked off CKNWACC’s partnership with Copia, a technology that will provide food waste tracking analytics and enhanced tax deductions for donors, enhancing the efficiency of food recovery in Northwest Arkansas.
With the launch of the program, NWACC will become the second community college to join our national network of over 60 schools. CKNWACC will partner with the NWACC Food Pantry, which serves students, faculty and staff, throughout the year by delivering recovered food from weekly culinary classes at Brightwater. CKNWACC will also deliver a hot lunch to the Samaritan Community Center and serve dinners at the local Salvation Army.
Sponsored by the Food Studies and Student Life departments, CKNWACC will work on both the NWACC and Brightwater campuses. They will recover prepared food from Brightwater Culinary School and deliver it to Samaritan Community Center, the local Salvation Army, and the NWACC Food Pantry once a week. CKNWACC will also prepare and serve a large community meal on Fridays with leftover ingredients from Brightwater Culinary School classes.
We are looking forward to seeing CKNWACC continue to grow on their campus and in their community. To learn more about bringing a Campus Kitchen to your school, check out our Campus Kitchen Planner.
Read more about the CKNWACC Launch Event here!