Campus Kitchen Keeps on Cooking

Student Effort Helps Feed Area Hungry for Eight Years

The Campus Kitchen at Kent State University is celebrating eight years of making an impact across campus and in the Kent community, annually turning 60,000 pounds of leftover food into 18,000 meals.

Amanda Woodyard, director of the university’s Community Engaged Learning, began advising the Campus Kitchen about three years ago and has witnessed its continuing success.

“The Campus Kitchen is a beast,” Ms. Woodyard joked. “It is a machine. There is so much food that is coming through the doors of the kitchen and then going back out to the agencies that we serve.”

Each semester, a leadership team of about five students is created in order to keep the kitchen running smoothly and efficiently. Students of any major are welcome to work at the Campus Kitchen, but the organization often finds itself with nutrition, public health and hospitality management majors as part of its leadership team.

Krystal Franklin, a sophomore public health major, began working for the Campus Kitchen last year. She said her experiences have been nothing short of wonderful.

“The kitchen is not only a great resource for our community and way to make a difference, but it also helps student volunteers connect and make friends with other students who have similar interests,” Ms. Franklin said.

The kitchen gets a large portion of its food supply from Trader Joe’s in Woodmere and leftovers from local farmers markets. The Campus Kitchen served more than 18,000 meals in the past year.

The kitchen supplies nutritious meals to local agencies, such as Kent Social Services, Center of Hope and Upper Room Ministries, and travels to Springtime of Hope in Akron every Friday. The kitchen’s website allows interested parties to sign up and volunteer for serving and preparing meals at these facilities.

During 2018, the Campus Kitchen started two new programs: a Food Pantry and the Pop-Up Market Program.

“A lot of people aren’t aware that the Campus Kitchen exists on campus,” Ms. Woodyard said. “They also aren’t aware that there’s food resources for students and other members of the community. So, we wanted to take our show on the road. We did a pop-up market for the Summer Advantage Program, where the students and the staff could shop and get nutritious food and recipe cards. It was a way for people to learn about the kitchen and become more involved if they wanted to.”

The Food Pantry is open twice a week; food is given for free to anyone who stops by. Unlike some other food pantries, the Campus Kitchen gives out meat, bread, fruits, vegetables and other perishable items as a way to provide a wholesome and nutritious meal.

The Campus Kitchen’s newest opportunity is a weekly meal program at Kentway Apartments, a subsidized housing complex for individuals “55 years and better.” The kitchen received a $5,000 grant from AARP and the National Campus Kitchen network allowing them to provide the meals weekly to those who are food insecure.

According to Ms. Woodyard, most of the residents at Kentway receive SNAP benefis and are in need of not only meals and supplemental groceries, but also companionship.

“A little comradery can go a long way in terms of morale and overall health benefits,” Ms. Woodyard said.

If interested, the Campus Kitchen is looking for volunteers on Tuesdays to help prepare meals at Beall Hall from 3-5 p.m. or serve and enjoy a dinner with residents from 5-7 p.m. at Kentway Apartments. For more information, click here: https://kent.givepulse.com/group/203889-The-Campus-Kitchen-at-Kent-State

For more information about the Campus Kitchen at Kent State, visit www.kent.edu/community/campus-kitchen.

POSTED: Monday, January 28, 2019 - 9:44am
UPDATED: Friday, February 1, 2019 - 3:27pm
WRITTEN BY:
Alexa Marco