Thanks to a successful marketing campaign, University of Kentucky students have launched their own Campus Kitchen and several Lexington residents now know where their next meal is coming from.
The Campus Kitchens Project is a national organization that empowers student volunteers to fight hunger in their community. The Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky provides free, nutritious meals to Lexington citizens by using food that would otherwise go to waste. Through a partnership with UK’s dining partner Aramark, students recently began collecting unused food from locations such as dining halls, grocery stores, restaurants and farms. Program organizers estimate they will collect enough food to provide several hundred Lexingtonians with a meal each week. The Campus Kitchen group at UK has partnered with the Lexington Senior Center, Catholic Action Center, Hope Center and the Martin Luther King Academy to reach those in need.
"Recent gleaning efforts of pumpkins and kale greens at UK's Horticultural Research Farm, along with baked chicken from a university-sanctioned picnic, helped feed 50 young individuals,” said Sandra Bastin, chair of the UK Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition in the College of Agriculture, Food and Environment. “University students experienced the importance of community outreach in meeting a basic human need. The department is excited about the difference the student-led Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky can make in finding hunger solutions for our community."
The national organization, The Campus Kitchens Project Inc., was founded in 2001 with the goal of empowering college students to fight local hunger and to raise awareness about poverty, garden initiatives, nutrition education and food policy. UK’s is the first in Kentucky.
“We are thrilled to welcome the University of Kentucky to The Campus Kitchens Project network,” said Laura Toscano, director of The Campus Kitchens Project. “With the launch of their Campus Kitchen, students will not only recover unused food to create meals for those in need, but they will also create programs that support the community and develop themselves as student leaders in the process.”
In October, students in the UK Department of Dietetics and Human Nutrition had one week to encourage supporters to vote daily for their video on the Campus Kitchens website http://www.campuskitchens.org/aarp. Of the five schools that participated, UK received the most votes. As a result, they received a $5,000 grant sponsored by AARP Foundation to start a kitchen.
Tammy Stephenson, assistant professor and adviser to the student group, said not only are the students giving to others, but they are learning beneficial lessons at the same time.
“Students develop real-life skills that cannot be taught in the classroom, including leadership, problem-solving and interpersonal communication skills,” she said. “The student leaders of the Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky, including President Walter Brown, have spent many months meeting with community and campus partners to establish this program, and we are so proud of their relentless efforts.”
In the last academic year, 36 Campus Kitchens across the country rescued more than 939,000 pounds of food and served nearly 272,000 meals to over 8,500 clients.
The UK at the Half radio feature on UK's Campus kitchen, which aired during the UK vs. UCLA men's basketball game on Dec. 20, can be found at http://news.ca.uky.edu/multimedia/radio/archive/2014/12/.