This year, we welcomed a new group of advisors – our Student Advisory Council – made up of five students from five different campuses across the country are expert Campus Kitchens leaders who are serving one year as the sounding board and idea generator for the CKP HQ staff. Four times a year they got together with HQ staff and discuss the Campus Kitchens Project student experience and offer suggestions or new ideas on how to make it the best it can be. Now, four of the five founding members are graduating and we sat down with three of them to reflect on their experience with their Campus Kitchen.
How did you get involved with your Campus Kitchen?
Ginny Lampkin: I got involved with CKAU through a friend who volunteered during my freshman year. My first shift was a packaging shift, and I fell in love with the mission of the organization.
Shannon Hickey: I first volunteered with CKP because I had trouble adjusting to my affluent campus community, which looks so different from my hometown and my upbringing. The people we serve felt familiar to me at a time when I was struggling to find my place in a new environment. I am so grateful to our guests and to a like-minded leadership team that helped me realize where I belong!
David Ajamy: I got involved with Campus Kitchen primarily because I was told to. I was part of a social justice/service based pre-orientation and my group leader told me I had to get involved with Campus Kitchen. He said this both because he knew my dedication to service, but especially one dedicated towards the outside community from our university.
What shifts/activities did you participate in?
GL: I’ve participated in every type of shift CKAU does, from resourcing to packaging, to pick-up, to cleaning, to delivery. Each has its challenges, but each is incredibly rewarding and purposeful.
SH: My very first shift was our cooking shift, but I’m not a very good cook so I quickly transitioned to our set-up, serving, and dish-washing shifts. This year, I was Shift Captain for set-up and serving shifts. I’ve also done a lot of our fresh produce recovery activities.
DA: In my first year, I was a regular volunteer for a cooking shift. The second year, I led a cooking shift every Monday night.
Did you hold any leadership positions? If so, what were they and for how long?
GL: I have served as a shift leader during the entirety of my time working with Campus Kitchens. I served as the Outreach Committed Director during my sophomore year. I worked on projects to recruit volunteers and show appreciation for our partners. I served as president of CKAU during my junior year at Auburn. I served for a year in that role, and thanks to the support of my team and our community, we doubled our recovery numbers and formed numerous new partnerships for both pick-ups and deliveries.
SH: I have been on the Leadership Team for 3 years. I am currently our Director of Community Partnerships and have been in this role for two semesters. I create new food recovery relationships with local farms, businesses, and institutions, as well as maintain existing partnerships with our on-campus Dining Services. Previously, I have been our Food Procurer (supplementing our recovered food with small amounts of purchased foods) and our Auditor (tracking our statistics, measuring our impact, and reporting in Apricot).
DA: My third year, I served on our executive board as Public Relations Chair. And then now, as a senior, I am the Co-Coordinator or Co-President of the organization.
What’s next after graduation?
GL: I graduated on May 5th, and it’s hard to believe I’ll be moving away from Auburn! It seems like time flew by. On June 22nd, I will be getting married, then my husband and I will be moving to Birmingham, Alabama. I am applying to Optometry school at UAB for admission in the Fall of 2020, so I will have a gap year between my graduation from Auburn and the start of optometry school. During that year, I plan to participate in food insecurity work in the Birmingham city and Jefferson county area. I would love to work at a gardening center or a nursery, as I also have a passion for plants.
SH: Long-term, I’d love to write and/or lobby for agriculture and food policy that supports small farmers, promotes accessibility of local food, and uplifts migrant workers who are responsible for most of our food production. Immediately after graduation, I’m not quite sure but I’d like to farm for a little while to get a more complete understanding of the real impacts of policy.
DA: I am currently still looking into post-graduate plans; I am waiting to hear back about a fellowship around food and racial justice. If I don’t get the fellowship, I am may go to Emory Law School or go work on a presidential campaign somewhere.
How did your experience with your Campus Kitchen impact your career path?
GL: My experience with Campus Kitchens has prepared me to be a better doctor, friend, and community member. It’s taught me to communicate effectively with people from different backgrounds, and it’s also taught me to manage my time effectively so I can continue to prioritize community service.
SH: While I’ve always been interested in agricultural policy, I hadn’t realized how integral accessibility and food security is to this sect of policy. In being involved with CKP, I’ve been able to explore the interconnectedness of these two areas and solidify that this is where I want to focus my passion and energy. I’ve done this through SNAP registration drives, Farm Bill petitioning, and chatting with our farm partners about challenges they face.
DA: I will never be able to truly define how much Campus Kitchen influenced my passions and possible paths for my post-graduate career. Simply, it showed me the power through service and community engagement I have to influence and change our world and promote not just food justice, but social justice.
What advice would you give to someone who is interested in volunteering with their Campus Kitchen?
GL: I have persuaded countless Auburn students to volunteer with Campus Kitchens. I would recommend it to anyone looking to get involved on their campus, and anyone wanting to give back to their college town. I think it is one of the most tangible and hands-on service experiences a college student can have. It provides invaluable experiences to all who participate.
SH: Definitely do it! Even if food waste and food security are not something you’re incredibly passionate about now, CKP’s holistic approach to combating poverty reaches so many different areas that you’re sure to discover your relationship to these issues. CKP also leads to other opportunities for service, and helps connect students to the community beyond campus. It is hands-down my favorite thing I’ve done in college!
DA: For advice, just sign up for a shift (or a couple) and see what you think! Just remember that CK is not just about food, it is about working with our community and empowering each other to be the best people we can towards our world, all while using food as a tool.
What did you enjoy most about your time on the Student Advisory Council?
GL: During my time on the Student Advisory Council, I felt like an ally and resource for Nationals. I knew that my opinion as a student was valued, and that I had the opportunity to communicate CKAU’s questions to Nationals, and also share opportunities with Nationals with CKAU.
SH: I’m a change-driven person and I really appreciate the opportunity to make a positive impact. In my position on the Student Advisory Council, I felt like my voice was valued and heard, and I could use it to express the concerns of Kitchens in my region and across the country. I also felt very tuned into the happenings at National.
DA: For me, serving on the Student Advisory Council was special in how it kept me connect with fellow leaders from other Campus Kitchens and having the ability to listen and learn from them has been extremely helpful and beautiful.