On March 4th, 2019, students, staff, and faculty from 4 colleges in central California convened at the University of California Merced to learn about The Campus Kitchens Project and join in discussions about food waste and food insecurity.
We started out the day with some discussions on food waste. A staff member at UC Merced shared some of the work that their programs are currently doing on campus to help keep food out of the landfill and instead distribute what they can through their campus food pantry.
The dining team prepared a beautiful and delicious ‘seed to stem/upcycled food’ lunch which was just a preview of some of the meals that the Campus Kitchen at UC Merced will be creating once they launch in the fall. The chefs who designed this menu will be working closely with the Campus Kitchen at UC Merced to teach students how to turn normally wasted foods into exquisite meals.
After lunch, students with the UC Merced Bobcat Food Pantry team hosted a tour of their kitchen and held a presentation on food insecurity at UC Merced and in central California. During this session, attendees shared some best practices and ideas about how to address food insecurity on their campuses.
For our afternoon session, three students from active Campus Kitchens joined a video conference to share their experiences with their CKs. Shannon, one of our CKP Student Advisory Council members, called in from the CK at St. Lawrence during their meal distribution. She was able to show off their facilities and their team in action! We had Ali, who is also a CKP Student Advisory Council member, from the CK at the University of Georgia (CKUGA) on the call. Ali shared his experience working with a Campus Kitchen and painted a picture of how CKUGA has changed and grown since its start in 2012. Cassie from the CK at Utah State University (CKUSU) was also on the call. CKUSU just launched this November, and Cassie shared her experience with planning and launching a Campus Kitchen.
We had a bit of a smaller group for our final session, so we decided to have more of an informal conversation about next steps towards addressing food insecurity in communities and developing new programs through asset-based community development.
It was exciting to share information about The Campus Kitchens Project and to participate in important conversations about the issues behind the work that we do through CKP. I’m glad I had the opportunity to meet people from campuses around central California as well as the team at UC Merced who is working to bring a Campus Kitchen to their school, and I look forward to continuing to work with these passionate and dedicated individuals.