Student-Powered Hunger Relief

2015 Campus Kitchen award winners

, April 21st, 2015


When the academic year comes to a close, we enjoy taking an opportunity to recognize outstanding Campus Kitchens and their leaders for their work to end hunger in their communities. During the 2015 Food Waste & Hunger Summit this past weekend, Campus Kitchens from around the country gathered to celebrate their accomplishments over the past year. On Saturday evening, we gathered the network to present eight individuals and Campus Kitchens with awards acknowledging their commitment to fighting hunger and dedication to the Campus Kitchen network.

Nopalitos Award – Patty Tobin, the Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga College High School
Growing the Movement Award – the Campus Kitchen at Auburn University
Harvester Award – Brad LaChapell and Christina Sarmiento, the Campus Kitchen at Lee University
Going Beyond the Meal Award – the Campus Kitchen at Augsburg College
Ingrid Easton Student Visionary Award – Leebo Tyler, the Campus Kitchen at Troy University
Community Impact Award – the Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee University
Volunteer of the Year Award – Paige Ottmar, the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University
Kitchen of the Year Award – the Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College

Nopalitos Award – goes to the volunteer who never faltered in the face of adversity and instead rose to every challenge and took every difficulty in stride.
Patty Tobin, the Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga College High School
Running a Campus Kitchen is certainly not easy and requires a belief in the mission and a tenacity that few bring like this Campus Kitchen leader. But when you’re in a high school in the middle of a city, it’s even harder. Students don’t have cars, so you can’t easily recover food from outside your campus. Most students at Gonzaga College High School play a sport too, so they’ve got several after school commitments. The school requires that a staff person be present at school events all times, but most of the other teachers are already involved in other after-school commitments like coaching the sports teams. For that reason, Patty Tobin supervises shifts and has built the Campus Kitchen into a place where students can lead and thrive. And these students are staying involved after graduation. Not only are they coming back to volunteer over the summer while they’re in college, but they work on starting new Campus Kitchens at the colleges they end up attending.

Growing the Movement Award –  recognizes a Campus Kitchen that has looked beyond the change that they can achieve in their own community and has given back to the entire Campus Kitchens network. 
The Campus Kitchen at Auburn University
The Campus Kitchen at Auburn University is part of a larger effort on campus called the Hunger Solutions Institute, which houses a number of different programs specifically dedicated to encouraging students across the country to get involved in hunger relief initiatives, on both a national and international scale – most notably Universities Fighting World Hunger. They have taken part in launching an awareness campaign to encourage university presidents to voice their support for solving the problem of hunger. The Campus Kitchen students also traveled to the Universities Fighting World Hunger conference to represent The Campus Kitchens Project to other interested student leaders from across the country.

Harvester Awardawarded to a student who has brought cross-disciplinary knowledge and skills to their Campus Kitchen.
Brad LaChapell and Christina Sarmiento, the Campus Kitchen at Lee University
This year we’re presenting the Harvester award to two students who have worked closely together to significantly grow the impact of their Campus Kitchen as co-directors of a very large-scale Saturday morning grocery distribution. As a team, Bard and Christina oversee the recovery of nearly of 1,200 lbs of food, packing this food in to grocery bags, and delivering the bags to over 200 members of the community. They are the first to show up on Saturday mornings, and the last to leave, personally overseeing the cleaning up of the facilities. They have had over 100% growth in their volunteer base and retention, now with nearly 100 consistent volunteers. In addition to all this, they have helped their clients start a social enterprise business where their clients can display their artistic abilities and craftsmanship and sell their product for a profit, generating over $1100 for their clients this school year.

Going Beyond the Meal Awardrecognizes the Campus Kitchen that demonstrates excellent “beyond the meal” initiatives in service to their community.
The Campus Kitchen at Augsburg College
The Campus Kitchen at Augsburg College is exemplary in using food as a tool to bring people together. Over time they have continued to expand their reach, bringing their mission of serving food to deeper corners of the local population. For many years now, they have sponsored an on-campus farmers market, allowing farmers and gardeners access to the students and other interested customers on their campus. They also spearhead a community garden, allowing students, clients and community members of to plant and harvest their own garden plot. They use food to expand into the community through a multicultural dinner they host annually at their local community center. This event encourages members of their city’s large immigrant community to come together to share stories and food of their native cultures. Another effort that the Campus Kitchen at Augsburg College makes in “going beyond the meal” is through their ever-expanding work with senior clients, funded in part by a recent AARP sub-grant. They have taken steps to provide more programming to seniors, including providing nutrition and recipe tips, and hosting cooking workshops and demonstrations. At the weekly senior dinner, student volunteers sit and visit with the clients as they eat, understanding that relationship building can sometimes be just as impactful as food. The strength of these ties with the seniors was illustrated at one weekly dinner last September, where the senior clients did the cooking, preparing a chili meal and serving the volunteers the food rather than being served themselves. This vibrant kitchen is doing an outstanding job in going beyond the meal, and using food to build and strengthen community.

Ingrid Easton Student Visionary Award celebrates the entrepreneurial drive in our student leaders, who dream big and make it happen. The award is named in honor of Ingrid Easton, Washington and Lee University graduate who achieved her goal of opening a Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee University in September 2006.
Leebo Tyler, the Campus Kitchen at Troy University
Leebo is dependable, responsible and a leader of his peers. He has been involved in Troy University’s anti-hunger initiatives since his freshman year, which led to the creation of this relatively new Campus Kitchen. Now a junior, he is the Campus Kitchen at Troy University’s inaugural president, and has worked tirelessly over the last year to ensure that their kitchen is successful. He is skilled at generating volunteer interest, speaking to groups and taking the initiative to make weekly cooking shifts and deliveries a success. When something needs to be done, he does it. He is consistently positive and is always looking to leverage resources for a greater impact for community and client organizations.

Community Impact Awardhonors a Campus Kitchen that has made a measurable impact on food insecurity in their community, and has put in the effort to track their outcomes.
The Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee University
This school year, the Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee University has expanded services to 300 additional clients and now serves over 1,000 community members each month. This expansion has been a result of growth in their backpack program and the creation of a new mobile food pantry initiative. The area around the university is very rural, and according to the most recent Map the Meal Gap tool provided by Feeding America, there are 4,460 community members struggling with food insecurity. The Campus Kitchen’s operations and programming reach almost 25% of that total and they’re not done yet: the mobile food pantry starts at a third location this month and will expand to at least three others to help fill the summer meal gap. This Campus Kitchen has shown us just what a difference it can make to leverage the existing resources of the local university in traditionally under-resourced rural areas.

Volunteer of the Year Award recognizes a student who has gone above and beyond in service to his or her Campus Kitchen.
Paige Ottmar, the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University
It is difficult to put into words the energy and passion Paige Ottmar puts into her work at the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University. She is always the first to jump in when someone needs a shift covered and has been an active participant in every event held for the entirety of her Campus Kitchen career. Her compassion for clients is unwavering and evident in everything she does for them, from her meticulous meal planning to her deliveries, which occasionally take longer than everyone else because she truly has relationships with every client. From clients to community volunteers to dining hall staff, her name brings a smile to all of their faces. Paige’s meal shifts run like a well-oiled machine. They are efficient and diligent but never lack the fun and smile she brings to everything she does. Her commitment is contagious. Last summer, this Paige exceeded all our expectations by stepping in to lead one of the most demanding programs at any Campus Kitchen nationwide. Each summer, the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University ramps up its operations in the summer months, preparing over 18,500 meals for youth in the community in partnership with one of our largest national sponsors. Last summer, when we were suddenly understaffed, Paige stepped in to serve as the interim coordinator. She did an incredible job of leading a 5-person team with grace and maturity.

Kitchen of the Year Awardhonors the Campus Kitchen that excels not only in safe and efficient operations, but in the many components that support operations, including community partnerships, participation in the CKP network and volunteer engagement.
The Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College
The Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College has an incredible impact on food insecurity through innovative programming. This Campus Kitchen first piloted a partnership with their local county farmers market in 2007, and over the years it has developed into the Healthy Options Program. Last year, 70 families were served by Healthy Options. Enrolled families receive $45 per month in vouchers over the summer months, allowing them access to healthy fresh fruits and vegetables from the market. The program targets families at risk of food insecurity but who do not qualify for food assistance. Along with the increased produce, families have the opportunity to participate in their choice of interactive activities, including nutrition education, meeting with dietitians, cooking or gardening classes, or even a food-themed family photo collage project. This program also supports local farmers, and allows previous participants to mentor new families in their quest to eat healthier. This year, the Campus Kitchen at Gettysburg College set the goal of raising an amazing $10,000 in the course of a week (through the Raise the Dough Challenge) to fund Healthy Options, which they achieved. This kitchen is making direct and measurable positive impact on the clients they serve, and we congratulate them on all they have accomplished.

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