A Donation That CARES

A partnership between University Culinary Services at Kent State University and Choolaah Indian BBQ created an impactful contribution to the CARES Center.

Choolaah donated over $13,000 to the CARES Center’s mission of securing resources to assist students with their basic needs regarding financial empowerment, food security, stable housing, and mental well-being. On Feb. 7, 2024, a celebratory event was held in the CARES Center at the Kent Student Center. It included remarks from Choolaah and Division of Student Life leadership, a check presentation, Choolaah items for attendees to sample from, and a tour of the CARES Center.

Joshua Perkins, Ph.D., director of the CARES Center, in the center's food pantry giving a tour.
Joshua Perkins (left) giving a tour of the CARES Center.

“We are so thankful for Choolaah and their generous donation and for Jacob Kuehn for having the vision of this wonderful partnership,” said Joshua Perkins, Ph.D., director of the CARES Center. “Choolaah’s donation will have a direct and immediate impact on how the CARES Center can serve students.” 

Jacob Kuehn, senior director for University Culinary Services, mentioned that Choolaah and Kent State partnered to establish the brand’s station at Eastway Center, which opened in April 2023. He added that Choolaah included the university in one of their programs that by purchasing their items, the brand gives back a percentage.

“It was our choice to decide where [to] give back to,” Kuehn said. “We thought that a great opportunity would be to the CARES Center.” 

This is the first donation to the CARES Center through this partnership. Kuehn mentioned that Culinary Services has plans to increase Choolaah’s presence on campus with smaller-scale retail and commissary items. As the brand’s presence grows and sales increase, Choolaah’s donation to the center will continue to grow. 

Display of Choolaah items and the reusable shopping bags donated by Culinary Services.
Choolaah items and the donated reusable shopping bags.

“Several resources, such as the Flashes Food Pantry and emergency grant, made available through the CARES Center are donation based, so the donation and partnership with Choolaah make it possible to serve exponentially more students,” Perkins said. 

“Knowing the work that Josh Perkins and his team do on meeting students’ basic needs and finding support [for] them, I knew that was the right place [for the donation],” Kuehn said.

University Culinary Services also provides funding or products to the CARES Center’s pantry. During the event on Feb. 7, they donated reusable shopping bags with the Choolaah, Culinary Services, CARES Center, and Division of Student Life’s logos to students who use the center’s pantry.

“I encourage students to try Choolaah if they haven’t,” Kuehn said. “I’m glad to be a partner with them and to have them on campus [making] that impact on students directly.”

POSTED: Thursday, February 22, 2024 03:42 PM
Updated: Monday, March 4, 2024 09:08 AM
Eduardo Strobel
Julia Keahey and Hannah Lundquist