Campus Kitchen at Kent State Launches Pop-Up Market
The Campus Kitchen at Kent State University is celebrating its fifth anniversary and has launched a new program this summer as part of activities marking its fifth year. The Campus Kitchen’s new pop-up market offers healthy produce and pantry items to children and families at no cost.
“At an alternative spring break in Washington, D.C., this past year, the Campus Kitchen volunteered at an organization called Martha’s Table,” said Ann Gosky, former director of Kent State’s Office of Experiential Learning and Civic Engagement, who now serves as the director of Kent State’s Office of Student Research. “The event we served at was a pop-up market where they go to local schools and provide an opportunity for families to shop for healthy produce and pantry items at no cost. We assisted with food demonstrations, nutrition lessons and other activities for children. Our students really enjoyed the activity and thought it would be a good response to address local food insecurity.”
After talking with its community partners, the Campus Kitchen at Kent State launched a pop-up market in July and August at the King Kennedy Community Center in Ravenna in collaboration with the center, the Portage County Sheriff’s Office and Center of Hope.
The next market will be held in October at East Main Elementary in Ravenna. The markets will be offered once each month at this location during the school year. During summer, the market will return to King Kennedy Community Center.
This past year, the Campus Kitchen at Kent State served nearly 17,000 meals in the community and engaged more than 2,000 volunteers in a variety of projects. The Campus Kitchen at Kent State also received national recognition from the Campus Kitchens Project at the 2016 Food Waste and Hunger Summit for recovering what may be the largest food donation in the history of the national Campus Kitchen Project.
“We received more than $300,000 worth of food product from Trader Joe’s,” Gosky said. “The store was moving locations and could not move products from one location to another, so it allowed organizations to come and recover some of their food. We were able to recruit nearly 60 volunteers to make that happen over the course of a week. Roughly two-thirds of what we recovered went directly to Center of Hope and Kent Social Services. We have used the rest to continue to provide our services throughout the year.”
Gosky has found the Campus Kitchen to be a way to engage students and make them more aware of food insecurity at Kent State and in the local communities.
“It’s important that students know food insecurity is a reality,” she said. “Some of our own students experience it, and it’s good other students are aware that that need exists. It also helps students develop life skills. If they’re a volunteer in the kitchen, they learn how to use a knife and create healthy dishes. And, hopefully, their views of the community are expanded.”
Alex Drungil, a Kent State alumnus and current public health administration graduate student, served as a volunteer for two years before becoming a student manager for the Campus Kitchen at Kent State.
“The Campus Kitchen helped shape my career path,” Drungil said. “I studied nutrition as an undergraduate student, but after working with Campus Kitchen, I applied to graduate school for public health. That will give me more of the tools I need to fight hunger and deal with food insecurity. All of that was totally shaped by working with the Campus Kitchen.”
In the time Drungil has been involved with the Campus Kitchen, he has seen the Wednesday meal production increase. The Campus Kitchen also has grown its community partners and continues to find new restaurants willing to donate.
Since its beginning, the Campus Kitchen has hosted a community outreach booth at the local Haymaker Farmer’s Market, a year-round market with live music and more than 50 vendors.