Student-Powered Hunger Relief

What Makes Turkeypalooza a Success?

, December 11th, 2015


Each year, The Campus Kitchens Project celebrates Thanksgiving by hosting a network-wide event that we call Turkeypalooza.

Turkeypalooza is a tradition where Campus Kitchens go above and beyond their normal operations to do a little something extra for their clients. Campus Kitchens do anything from preparing a traditional Thanksgiving meal to hosting a canned food drive, to running a cooking shift with their clients. Across our 49 Campus Kitchens, Turkeypalooza was a tremendous success. Thousands of meals were made to serve hundreds of people struggling with food insecurity.

Here are just a few highlights from how Campus Kitchens made this year’s Turkeypalooza great!

  1. Chicken: Making scratch-cooked turkeys on a large scale can be challenging, so this year, the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University (CKNU) hosted a “ChickenPalooza” where student volunteers created a Thanksgiving meal, substituting chicken for turkey. The volunteers spent a full day cooking to create 300 meals to deliver to their clients in Evanston, Illinois. Read more about CKNU’s Chickenpalooza here.
  1. Student Athletes: More than 65 student-athletes and staff volunteered at the Campus Kitchen at Marquette University before Thanksgiving. Volunteers from the women’s soccer team, men and women’s track and field and cross country programs, and both men’s and women’s lacrosse teams helped make 698 Thanksgiving meals for food insecure individuals in the Milwaukee area. We couldn’t do this work without our volunteers, and in this instance, student athletes.
  1. Community: The Campus Kitchen at Wake Forest University scratch-cooked over 400 balanced, nutritious Thanksgiving meals for their community members.  A senior at Wake Forest, Brooke Lucas, keeps in mind this holiday season that students are still part of the Winston-Salem community. “Thanksgiving is a holiday for everyone to share, not just those who can afford it,” Lucas said. And we agree! Turkeypalooza is always a success when you keep your community in mind.
  1. Partnership: The Campus Kitchen at the College of William and Mary (CKWM) teamed up with the Black Law Students Association. Together, the two organizations collected 4,114 canned goods, like green beans, soup, mashed potatoes, and more! Students at CKWM also connected with local churches and newspapers to help spark interested in the event. After the can drive, about 60 students volunteered during the six hour Turkeypalooza event to create 132 Thanksgiving meals. Read more about CKWM here.
  1. Celebrities: Nothing makes an event successful like an appearance from a celebrity, or in this case, a very famous family. President Obama, the First Lady, and their two daughters joined the Campus Kitchen at Washington DC (CKWDC) to serve their Turkeypalooza meal. President Obama and his family served a meal prepared by CKWDC at their partner agency, Friendship Place’s event, Feast with Friends. Veteran families and formerly homeless participants in Friendship Place’s Veterans First Program gathered to enjoy a Thanksgiving meal. President Obama served the Turkey and gravy, naturally, while Michelle, Malia, and Sasha dished traditional Thanksgiving sides.

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