Student-Powered Hunger Relief

Posts by Linda Kurtz

Campus Kitchen at Washington, DC wins Raise the Dough Challenge

, February 28th, 2015


For the past seven days, 24 Campus Kitchens across the country competed against one another to see who could raise the most money to support their hunger-fighting work. They galvanized hundreds of student, faculty and community supporters – 943, to be exact – with impressive results. Together, they raised $56,293 to support their innovative student-powered hunger relief efforts.

The Campus Kitchen at Washington, DC (CKWDC) raised $12,715, thereby winning an additional $1,000 prize for raising the most “dough” of any Campus Kitchen. CKWDC will use the funds they raised to support their food recovery and meal production efforts – they plan to create 15,000 healthy, balanced meals for Washington, DC residents this year alone. Further, the Campus Kitchen is aiming to expand their services to an under-served community east of the Anacostia River to provide fresh produce and healthful meals in an area considered a food desert.

The Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College came in second place, raising $10,537 and winning an additional $500 grant. Students with the Campus Kitchen at Saint Peter’s University raised $6,000 to come in third, winning an additional $250. Finally, a $750 prize was also given to the Campus Kitchen at the University of Maryland Eastern Shore/Shady Grove (who raised $5,020) for engaging 159 donors – the most of any competitor.

A giant “thank you” goes out to all of our 943 donors and to all who shared our challenge with their own networks. Your support makes all the difference in powering our lean and sustainable solutions to hunger, which since 2001 has empowered student volunteers to recover more than 4,163,000 pounds of food and serve more than 2,334,000 meals. Thank you for investing in our work!

Seven Campus Kitchens awarded grants to address rural hunger

, February 25th, 2015

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A new two-year, $150,000 investment from CoBank will support the development of innovative hunger solutions at seven Campus Kitchens in rural communities across the country.

Each of these Campus Kitchens will use existing college or university campus resources to develop innovative programs that address the root causes of hunger, and develop a replicable toolkit for other schools to implement. Students are encouraged to incorporate local food systems as part of their solutions.

The seven Campus Kitchens selected to focus specifically on issues surrounding rural hunger are:

Student volunteers from the seven selected Campus Kitchens will identify new and innovative solutions to hunger in their communities that go beyond the traditional model of providing meals. From Elon University’s strong partnerships with neighboring farms, to Gettysburg’s innovative distribution of free CSA shares, these campuses serve as the ideal “test kitchen” for more sustainable solutions to hunger. Our national program team will work with student leaders to evaluate the most effective rural-focused programs and support each Campus Kitchen in developing toolkits and trainings that will allow other universities to replicate these promising solutions.

We’re looking forward to developing long-term solutions to rural hunger with these Campus Kitchens, where traditional approaches to fighting hunger are not working. Instead of pouring more money into these old solutions, the next generation of student leaders at our Campus Kitchen chapters are bringing the existing resources of their universities to solve this endemic problem.

It’s time to #raisedough

, February 20th, 2015

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That’s right: the Raise the Dough Challenge starts today!

Donate to Raise the Dough Challenge 2015

From now through the end of Friday, February 27, 24 of our Campus Kitchens are going head to head to see who can raise the most money. The Campus Kitchen that raises the most by the end of the week will win a $1,000 prize. Which Campus Kitchen do you want to come out on top? Support them with a $10 donation today, share your support on social media using #raisedough and stay tuned throughout the next seven days to see how the competition shakes out!

Don’t see your Campus Kitchen on our team page? Contribute to The Campus Kitchens Project nationally instead, and your donation will help us open more Campus Kitchens, growing our network to 50 or more schools!

Registration for the Food Waste & Hunger Summit is now open

, February 18th, 2015

fwhs web banner.fwFor the second year in a row, The Campus Kitchens Project and Food Recovery Network are co-hosting the Food Waste & Hunger Summit, a two-day event that convenes student leaders who are pioneering solutions to the interrelated problems of food insecurity and food waste. This year, the Summit will be held at the University of Georgia from April 18-19, and registration is now open.

The Summit gives students a forum to learn from – and present as – experts in the fields of social justice, social enterprise, public health, non-profit management and related fields in addition to the opportunity to share best practices. Because we believe in “student-powered hunger relief,” we’re proud that about one third of our breakout sessions will be led by student leaders from The Campus Kitchens Project and Food Recovery Network chapters. These students, as well as nonprofit leaders and academics from across the country, will share best practices around a variety of hunger-related issues. We’ve added the schedule as it stands so far to our website, and we’ll continue to update it with more details as the Summit gets closer!

Today, we’re thrilled to announce that this year’s featured keynote speaker is Doug Rauch. Doug is the former president of Trader Joe’s Company and current founder and president of Daily Table, an innovative retail concept designed to bring affordable nutrition to the food insecure in our cities by recovering the unsold, wholesome food from grocers, food service, growers and manufacturers to provide both ready-to-eat meals and basic groceries at prices that are less than junk food. Doug was also a recent Senior Fellow at Harvard University in their Advance Leadership Initiative, where he focused on the challenges of hunger and obesity and the environmental impact of wasted food.

We’ve always said we can’t end hunger with food – and we’ve always known we can’t do it alone, either. That’s why we join forces with organizations like Food Day, Real Food Challenge and Swipes for the Homeless – all partners of this year’s Summit – and one of our favorite parts of the Summit is exploring new ways of collaborating with organizations dedicated to empowering people to solve hunger. Want to join us this year? We’re offering a limited number of travel scholarships for students to attend the Summit, and applications are due on February 28. Register for the Food Waste & Hunger Summit today and join the movement end hunger in our lifetime!

VISTAs join national cohort at mid-year conference

, February 6th, 2015

kelly_cooking mattersWhat do the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University, the Village of Park Forest (Ill.) government and the Community Action Partnership of Orange County (Calif.) all have in common?

All of these organizations are currently hosting AmeriCorps VISTA volunteers who are working to increase community access to healthy food as part of a national project called the Anti-Hunger and Opportunity Corps (AHOC). The two VISTAs currently serving with The Campus Kitchens Project—Andrea, based in the DC office, and Kelly, at Northwestern University—joined more than 100 AHOC VISTAs serving in 32 states at a mid-year conference in Louisiana from January 22-25. The mid-year conference gave Andrea and Kelly an opportunity to hear how organizations around the country are developing long-term solutions to hunger and poverty, a goal shared by The Campus Kitchens Project and the AHOC sponsor, the New York City Coalition Against Hunger (NYCCAH).

Kelly shares her reflections on the experience: “After more than six months being immersed in our communities and assigned projects, the mid-year conference was a chance for us to share ideas and best practices and learn from each others’ experiences. My favorite part of the conference was connecting with other VISTAs with similar passions and goals and learning about the creative ways they are increasing access to healthy, local food and reducing hunger in their communities. During a best practice session about engaging farmers’ markets in Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs, I learned how one VISTA is encouraging members of her community to use their SNAP benefits at farmers’ markets by creating a cookbook filled with easy and affordable recipes from farmers at the local market. I am excited to apply the knowledge and ideas I gained at the conference to my work at the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University. I plan on developing bimonthly community food access newsletters that will include information about applying for SNAP and using SNAP incentives at Evanston farmers’ markets, healthy recipes highlighting seasonal ingredients from our local farmers, and updated soup kitchen schedules. It is my hope that these newsletters will enhance our involvement in the Evanston community.”

Andrea adds: “Hearing from leaders in the field of community food security like NYCCAH’s Executive Director Joel Berg and USDA Food and Nutrition Service Administrator Audrey Lowe was an inspiring call to action—we have the power to truly end hunger in America. We got to see some great examples of local efforts in New Orleans such as the ReFresh Project, a ‘community health hub’ that hosts healthy cooking classes, community gardens and a social enterprise and youth employment program called Liberty’s Kitchen. As part of ‘Hunger Matters: A National Day of Service,’ Kelly and I also had the opportunity to participate in Cooking Matters at the Store tours with the Second Harvest Food Bank. I’m looking forward to using what I learned from that experience, as well as AARP Foundation’s presentation on their store tours with older adults, to add practical shopping tips to the nutrition education resources I’m developing for Campus Kitchens.”

Kelly and Andrea returned to their respective offices excited to use what they learned to continue strengthening nutrition education, community gardening and other beyond the meal programs throughout the national network, and are already looking forward to the next AHOC conference in May. Events like the AHOC conferences and the upcoming Food Waste & Hunger Summit provide crucial opportunities for collaboration between organizations around the country that are using service as a tool to end hunger and develop more equitable and sustainable communities.

Inside look: the Campus Kitchen at Troy University

, February 2nd, 2015

Have you ever seen a Campus Kitchen in action? Just a few days ago, Troy University took an inside look at the new Campus Kitchen at Troy, which recovers food from their Sodexo-run Troy Dining and serves children in the Pike County Head Start program. Watch this great video to learn more about the children they serve – and the students who make the Campus Kitchen happen.

25 Campus Kitchen schools named to President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll

, December 9th, 2014

prez honor roll header.fw The Corporation for National and Community Service has announced the recipients of the 2014 President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, which include 25 colleges and universities that host Campus Kitchen chapters. Those schools are:

Honor Roll with Distinction

  • Auburn University
  • Augsburg College
  • Gettysburg College
  • Lee University
  • Saint Louis University
  • Washington & Lee University

Honor Roll

  • Baylor University
  • College of William & Mary
  • East Carolina University
  • Elon University
  • Emory University
  • Gonzaga University
  • Johns Hopkins University
  • Kent State University
  • Marquette University
  • Saint Peter’s University
  • SIUE
  • Union College
  • University of Florida
  • University of Georgia
  • University of Massachusetts Boston
  • University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire
  • Wake Forest University
  • Washington University in St. Louis

According to the CNCS website, “the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll recognizes institutions of higher education that support exemplary community service programs and raise the visibility of effective practices in campus community partnerships.” It is the highest federal recognition a school can achieve for its commitment to service.

In the last academic year, these schools recruited 4,420 new Campus Kitchen volunteers who spent 52,692 hours recovering 841,930 pounds of food to create 217,246 healthy meals for their clients. What’s more, many of them went beyond those meals and implemented programming aimed at addressing the underlying root causes of hunger in their communities, like nutrition education classes, a backpack program that supplies children with food for the weekend, community gardens and so much more, living out our mission to use service as a tool to strengthen bodies, empower minds and build communities.

Reflections on the SNAP Challenge

, November 21st, 2014

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Last month, Laura Belazis, our associate director of training and evaluation, participated in the SNAP Challenge, spending one week eating on a SNAP benefit-limited budget. In recognition of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, here are her reflections from the challenge.

In October I participated in DC Hunger Solutions’ SNAP Challenge, which aims to highlight the struggles faced by too many throughout our region who can’t afford the food they need. The average SNAP benefit is $33 for one week, which is about $1.57 per person, per meal. This meant my husband and I had $66 to shop for everything we would eat for seven days.

I love to eat, and I love hearty meals full of bright colors and local ingredients that are both delicious and pack a nutritional punch. I knew it would take some careful planning to put together 21 meals for two people with only $66. To start with, I ruled out meat. Then to save time I decided to make four servings for each dinner, so there would be plenty left over for lunch the next day. Finally, my husband offered to make wonderful multigrain bread for the week.

For breakfasts I planned on plain Greek yogurt with pears and honey for our weekdays, and eggs on our multigrain toast for the weekend, which came to $0.99 for each of us per day. I also needed to make sure that we got in a couple servings of fruit, with some snacks to carry us between meals: four apples, a pound and a half of clementines and six bananas cost $7.64.

To make all of this happen I had to think carefully about where to shop to get the best ingredients at the lowest prices. I went to Trader Joe’s for bananas, clementines, starches, and butternut squash (over 4lbs and only $2!), a local co-op for the multigrain bread ingredients (the bulk bins let us buy exactly the amount we needed), and a mobile market for everything else. The mobile market is the only place I know in D.C. where I can get several grocery bags full of local produce and farm fresh eggs for only $20. And if I really had been using SNAP benefits, I could have taken advantage of their Bonus Bucks program to double my SNAP dollars.

We met my goal of a healthy and delicious SNAP week, but it took a lot of careful planning. It also made me truly appreciate many things that I take for granted:

#5 – I have a fully equipped kitchen.

#4 – On an ordinary week if I want to eat out, treat myself to a pastry or go to happy hour with friends, I have that luxury without having to check my budget and without having to make difficult trade-offs.

#3 – We have enough time and freezer space to keep our veggie scraps and make our own sauces and stocks, which are healthier than store-bought, and certainly less expensive too.

#2 – I live in a neighborhood where healthy and affordable produce is abundant.

#1 – My parents taught me to cook, and gave me both an arsenal of culinary knowledge and a love of good food.

My main takeaway from the SNAP Challenge is that living on a SNAP budget takes time, food access and knowledge to provide for your family, and the energy to keep it up week after week. Fortunately, programs like the 42 Campus Kitchens in communities across the country are making access to nutritional food easier. But could I have made it through the week if I had to work long hours at several jobs to make ends meet? Or if I had health issues or dietary restrictions? I don’t know, but having completed the SNAP Challenge, I have a better understanding now of the significant challenges faced by too many families trying to get by paycheck to paycheck, relying on their SNAP benefits to put food on the table. I hope that more people take the SNAP Challenge to gain insight into the difficulties faced by members of our community, and that with more knowledge and insight, together we can come together to solve hunger.

The Campus Kitchens Project comes to Emory University

, November 14th, 2014

Emory University prides itself on serving local and sustainable food. Their dining halls are full of produce from area farms, and they even host a farmers market on campus. But when that locally sourced food isn’t eaten, it’s either thrown away or composted. Knowing there was a better solution, Emory students have chosen to reduce food waste on campus and hunger in the Atlanta community by launching a Campus Kitchen.

The Campus Kitchen at Emory University (CKEmory) is our 42nd Campus Kitchen and third in the state of Georgia. They will use the demonstration kitchen in the basement of Few Hall to cook and package the food they recover from Emory’s Sodexo-run dining services. The meals they create will be delivered to local organizations, including Mercy Community Church, Intown Collaborative Ministries, Atlanta Day Shelter for Women and Children, The Open Door Community and Meals On Wheels Atlanta. Truly a collaborative effort, CKEmory brings together partners from Volunteer Emory, Greek Life, Emory Dining, Sodexo, Office of Sustainability, local food banks, shelters and countless students.

During their first cooking shift last night, Emory students whipped up homemade vegetable soup with couscous and a zucchini pasta casserole – 120 meals in total for hungry Atlantans.

According to the EPA’s Food Recovery Hierarchy, food waste should be used to feed hungry people before it is turned into compost. Emory’s on-campus eateries are already willing to work with students to recover food to be used for healthy meals, and with the start of CKEmory, this is now possible.

To learn more about bringing a Campus Kitchen to your school and to qualify for a $5,000 launch grant opportunity, visit our Campus Kitchen Planner.

41 strong: University of Kentucky joins The Campus Kitchens Project

, November 5th, 2014

Just last month, students and staff at the University of Kentucky participated in our latest launch grant video competition and won $5,000 to start a Campus Kitchen that will serve older adults. With that funding in hand, their coordination with dining services, creation of partnerships with community organizations and volunteer recruitment on campus has come to fruition: this afternoon, the Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky officially opens.

The Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky (CKUK) is our 41st Campus Kitchen and the first to open in the Commonwealth of Kentucky. They will operate out of the Erikson Hall Food Lab in the Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition and initially recover food that would have otherwise gone to waste from Aramark-run UK Dining. This food will then be used to create nutritious meals for clients with the Lexington Senior Center, Catholic Action Center and Hope Center. Soon, the student leaders with CKUK estimate they will be able to provide several hundred Lexingtonians with a meal each week. The Campus Kitchen is sponsored by the University of Kentucky Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition.

University of Kentucky is one of five schools that participated in the older adult-focused Campus Kitchen launch grant video competition sponsored by AARP Foundation in mid-October. A group of campus representatives created a video (watch it at the top of this post) explaining why their community would benefit from a Campus Kitchen and rallied thousands of supporters to vote for their entry. By the end of the competition, University of Kentucky’s submission received more than 3,400 votes, winning them a $5,000 grant to bring our program to their campus.

CKUK aims to serve older adults ages 50-59, many of whom are ineligible for other senior-focused services because they do not meet those age requirements. Nearly 9 million older Americans are at risk of hunger, a staggering 79 percent increase over the last 10 years. Kentucky is 18 in the nation for senior hunger, and over 8 percent of the state’s seniors do not know from where their next meal will come.

Matt, our expansion and partnerships manager, and Andrea, our DC-based AmeriCorps VISTA, are spending a couple of days in Lexington sharing best practices with the student leaders who will be running the Campus Kitchen. This afternoon, they will host a reception ceremony in Erikson Hall to officially launch the Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky.

To learn more about bringing a Campus Kitchen to your school and to qualify for our next $5,000 grant opportunity, visit our Campus Kitchen Planner.

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