a guest post by Kendall VanHoose, The Campus Kitchens Project intern
Did you know that in 2011, 8.4 percent of households with seniors (that’s 2.5 million households!) were food insecure? Did you also know that typically seniors have less access to nutritious food due to lack of mobility or isolation?
The student volunteers of the Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga College High School (CKGCHS) in Washington, D.C., primarily feed two senior communities located near the school. By talking with clients, the students learned that proper nutrition has a direct impact on food insecurity in these communities. They discovered that too often clients are forced to choose unhealthy foods to save money, not understanding the impact those foods have on their well-being.
To combat this, CKGCHS students are planning their very first Tasting Event for July 2, during which they will invite senior clients to try healthy meals and give their feedback. In addition, a D.C. Central Kitchen nutritionist will explain what makes these meals healthy and how to find these essential vitamins in other foods.
The boys plan to serve a salad course, consisting of a garden salad, a fruit salad, and a pasta salad; and a main course of chicken prepared three ways. The goal is to replicate foods that are easily accessible to the clients in local grocery stores, in addition to better understanding which meals clients prefer.
The event will culminate in a movie screening – ever seen Super Size Me?- and popcorn. Super Size Me is a documentary that details the consequences of only eating McDonald’s for a month. Needless to say, the results aren’t pretty. The CKGCHS students thought this film would be a fun way to underscore the event’s nutrition component.
With the creation of this program, CKGCHS students are addressing the root causes of hunger in their community and we commend them for their innovative efforts. Keep up the good work, boys!
a guest post by Mariah James, The Campus Kitchens Project intern
This spring, the US Department of Agriculture announced a $4 million expansion in the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) at farmers markets. With this increase, more low-income families now have access to fresh, local food – and therefore better health.
Farmers markets are increasingly accepting payment from SNAP and even offer incentives such as “bonus dollars” for SNAP beneficiaries. When customers use their supplemental checks or food stamps on fresh food, markets match what they spend, so often recipients get double the amount of food for the same price. Markets all over the country are making it more cost efficient and easier for low-income individuals to shop at farmers markets. For instance, markets in Spokane, Wash., even alter their hours of operation to meet the schedule of nearby schools to better accommodate families.
Eating fresh food is important because a healthy diet is a stepping stone to a better lifestyle. Eating fruits and vegetables can reduce the chance of obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and even cancer. In addition, fruits and vegetables contain vitamins and minerals that help boost the immune system, and fiber that makes people feel fuller longer and helps regulate digestion.
Our Campus Kitchen network is aiding in the accessible farmers market movement. The Campus Kitchen at Augsburg College (CKAC) has established two local markets near their campus that accept SNAP. The markets have an EBT machine, which allow customers to pay with their SNAP card. CKAC interns make accessibility to fresh produce even easier by translating the EBT process into Somali and Ethiopian to best meet the needs of their customers. The EBT machine also has a food match program that is almost identical to “bonus dollars” found at other markets.
Farmers markets are just one more way CKP is working to encourage healthy lifestyles and grow healthy communities.
We recently had the pleasure of welcoming a new staff member to The Campus Kitchens Project. He has experience developing community-based programs, thrives on cause-driven energy and is ready to take on the challenge of feeding students during the summer. Everyone, meet Jonathan, the new coordinator of the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University!
Jonathan is a 2010 graduate of the University of Kansas, where he was (and continues to be) a huge Jayhawks basketball fan. He then participated in the Coro Fellows Program in Public Affairs, a nine month experiential leadership training program that prepares individuals for leadership in the public affairs arena. Most recently, Jonathan worked at the University of Wisconsin Hillel developing community programs and engaging students in the causes they were passionate about. What a great background to bring to CKNU, don’t you think?
Outside of work, Jonathan enjoys sports (especially baseball and – you guessed it – basketball), going to concerts, talking about news/politics and making spicy green beans for his girlfriend, Zoe.
Despite the fact he’s only been at CKNU for a few days, Jonathan’s enthusiasm is contagious. “I am very excited to be joining The Campus Kitchens Project team,” he says. “While volunteering at DC Central Kitchen seven years ago, I saw the energy and passion within the organization and became instantly hooked.”
He’ll be harnessing the energy and passion within his own kitchen this summer to produce 12,420 meals for kids through CKNU’s partnership with the Sodexo Foundation’s Feeding Our Future program, crucial work as only 1 in 7 children who receive free or reduced lunch at school continue to receive meals during the summer. In addition, the partnership will allow CKNU to develop and deliver a nutrition education curriculum for youth. Finally, the kitchen will serve 4,712 meals to regular weekly clients. Wow!
Kids who rely on meals in school still need to be fed during the summer, and CKNU is rising to this challenge. Is the Campus Kitchen near you still running over the summer? More than likely, the answer is yes, and they could use your help. The summer is a perfect time to spend a few hours cooking and delivering much needed meals. Contact your Campus Kitchen to see how you can help today.
Did you know that there is enough food produced on this planet to feed everyone? Despite this, 1 in 7 people go to bed hungry. While our Campus Kitchens primarily work to feed the hungry in their communities by re-purposing food that would otherwise be wasted, they also draw attention to this imbalance.
Inspiring people of all ages to work towards hunger relief might be the key to successfully eliminating hunger in our society. We obviously believe in the power of youth, but what sort of impact do you think a child could have? Watch Daniel, a 3rd grader in Texas, share his feelings on the topic. Daniel’s teacher framed an entire semester around the issue of hunger and empowered her students to take action.
School is out, the sun is shining (for the most part) and the air is filled with the possibilities only summer time can bring. But if you think our Campus Kitchens take an extended vacation this time of year, think again.
The Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee University (CKWL) in Lexington, Va., started summer with a bang when they were presented the Outstanding Educational Institution Volunteer Program award for 2013 by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell earlier this month. Our own Emily Warner and Angelica Tillander, seniors who have been volunteering with CKWL since their first year of college, accepted the award on behalf of the group. The award recognizes exceptional volunteer service in Virginia.
Jenny Davidson, the coordinator of student service learning at Washington and Lee, is thrilled about her students’ success. “I am so proud of the work that our students do every day in our local community to eradicate hunger, empower others to make nutritious choices and develop meaningful relationships with our clients. The award from the governor’s office reinforces these accomplishments and is well deserved!”
Since CKWL began in October 2006, students have served 131,328 meals, recovered 297,147 pounds of food and logged 23,653 volunteer hours. So far this year, CKWL has served nearly 14,000 meals. They will keep working towards hunger eradication all summer long by continuing nutrition education classes, cultivating their on-campus garden and, of course, delivering meals to Lexington residents.
CKWL is just one example of a kitchen making an impact year round. So all summer, we’ll be highlighting the great work our kitchens are doing to combat hunger – which never takes a break – in their communities.