Student-Powered Hunger Relief

Posts by foodie

CKUGA senior spotlight

, May 10th, 2013

CKUGA wants to thank and congratulate all of our hard-working senior leadership team members on their graduation. Here’s their chance to recollect their contributions to Campus Kitchen and share what the future holds.

xanna spotlight pic


Where are you from? Douglasville, GA

What is your major? Dietetics, with a local food systems certificate

Where are you headed now? This summer, I’ll be in Oregon planning camps for grandparents and grandchildren. Then, I’ll be working with AmeriCorps in some capacity continuing to serve communities through nutrition education and food justice.

How has Campus Kitchen shaped your experience at UGA? It has made my last year at UGA the most impactful and memorable. I have loved my time working with Campus Kitchen because I’ve met so many awesome people who are changing this world, gained invaluable experience in my field and relating to my passions, and was able to serve Athens at the same time. Campus Kitchen at UGA has completely stolen my heart and I love this organization more than I could ever have imagined! Who knows, maybe my time working with The Campus Kitchens Project isn’t quite done yet.

A secret about yourself? I’m obsessed with trains! I secretly want to take a train tour of the US, but I have to become friends with a train conductor first because I want this tour to stop at every trestle because I also love train bridges.

Xanna has been an amazing addition to the leadership team and has been able to contribute in so many ways from meal planning to developing nutrition materials to cooking demos to designing the leadership retreat to SNAP outreach. No matter what she is asked to do, she gives it %100 and always has great results. She is passionate about what she does and truly is the model for what a leadership team member should be. Although we will miss her greatly I am really looking forward to all the amazing things she will undoubtedly accomplish outside of UGA. – Sarah Jackson, Program Coordinator

jack spotlight pic

Jack Spalding

Where are you from? Atlanta

What is your major? History and International Affairs

Where are you headed now? Atlanta, for an internship with the Carter Center

How has Campus Kitchen shaped your experience at UGA? It’s such a unique organization in that there are so many different opportunities for volunteering, and there are so many awesome people who volunteer with Campus Kitchen.  I really enjoyed being able to not only do bread pickups on the bike-cart, but also being able to harvest at the UGArden, as well as deliver meals, and sometimes even help cook. Being able to deliver meals was especially rewarding due to the fact that I was able to meet such kind, appreciative people struggling with hunger in Athens, and I was able to feel like I was truly making a difference. Deliveries really open your eyes to the serious poverty which grips many parts of Athens, and I think that without my experience through Campus Kitchen, I would never have come to understand the magnitude of this problem. That being said, I think that my time with Campus Kitchen has solidified my desire to continue to help those in need, especially with regards to hunger and food recovery, as I venture on into the world after college.

A secret about yourself? I wish that I was a professional golfer.

Jack is such a trooper. No matter what the request, I will always get a “roger that” and a helping hand. Not many college students would get up every single Wednesday morning even in the winter to do the bike cart route and pick up bread, but Jack sure did. One morning, I found him wearing a pair of tube socks on his hands because it was so cold and he didn’t have any gloves. While funny, this really does embody Jack–he is truly dedicated to our cause and will make our efforts happen no matter what. He will be very missed in the Garden, on the bike, and during deliveries. – Sarah Jackson, Program Coordinator


From volunteering to vocation

, April 19th, 2013

a guest post by Neil J. Costello

Did you know that 45% of the students that participate and volunteer with a Campus Kitchen change their career path based on that experience?

In the spring of 2007, I volunteered at the Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga College High School. Like many high school students, I had to complete a certain number of community service hours in order to graduate. While my motives for originally volunteering with the CKP may have been self-centered, what I learned and experienced outside of the kitchen really opened my eyes to a social issue that affects 1 in 6 Americans. Where is their next meal coming from?

During my time with the Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga College High School, I was proud to know that sometimes someone’s next meal was coming from me. During one of my meal deliveries, I knocked on a door and received no answer. Compelled to deliver that meal, I knocked one more time and put my ear to the door in case someone said something. A voice softly asked me to open the door. When I did, I saw an older, heavyset gentleman on oxygen sitting in a wheelchair. I greeted him and told him that I was there to deliver his meal from the Campus Kitchen. Then, the wildest thing happened. While we were talking, he asked if I would like some food. Not really thinking, I instinctively declined in a polite manner; but the gentleman then picked up the meal I had just given him, and told me he would be more than happy to share some of the food with me. I was awestruck. I didn’t need to share that meal, and I am sure he knew that, but he wanted to show his gratitude and appreciation by making this gesture. In that moment, I realized that nothing would ever mean more to me than helping those in need.

Now, six years after my experience as a Campus Kitchen volunteer, I am pursuing a graduate degree in Nonprofit Management and Leadership at the University of Maryland. I know that my experiences with The Campus Kitchens Project steered me towards pursuing a career in philanthropy and nonprofit management. Those experiences ultimately helped me understand what I want to do with the rest of my life, which is simply to have a positive impact in the lives of others. Thank you CKP!

Campus Kitchen at Marquette welcomes spring, raises dough for garden

, April 9th, 2013

Wisconsin is not commonly known for its stellar weather.  The recent frigid winter was preceded by a record drought   Not the kind of weather that gets people dropping in for spring break.  A student volunteer who grew up in Oregon told me last week that he had never experienced such gray weather.

Right now, it seems that Milwaukee has a serious case of the ‘grays.’  It has rained on and off for the past couple of days and will continue for a few more. The last of the winter’s snow and ice are melting, but there is a prediction for new snow later in the week. My wool socks are soaked inside of my pink Chuck Taylors. Looking out at our garden now, it looks like the rest of the city – a sad pall of rainy and gross.

Thankfully this sad grayness shall pass, and the evidence is all around us.  Daffodils are peaking through on the grounds around the corner from the kitchen.  My basement is alight in green with tomato, pepper, eggplant, herb and flower seedlings destined for both the CKMU/Marquette campus garden and my own personal garden.  The compost bin, which froze solid when the temperatures dipped to the single digits, has thawed and is ready to be turned to make new soil.  And the chives are starting to green up, preparing to flavor yet another season’s worth of food.

Our garden and the hope of summer that it inspires would not be possible without the generous support of our friends and donors in the Marquette community and beyond.  So far this year, the Campus Kitchen at Marquette has provided over 5,000 meals to folks served by our 10 partner agencies throughout the city of Milwaukee.

Will you help us continue our much needed work in the community by helping us Raise the Dough for CKMU?

1. Invite 10 people to donate $10 during the campaign by sharing this message by email or on Facebook:

2. Invest in our work by making a donation. Your support will help us provide volunteer opportunities on campus, reduce food waste and create meals for our community. Visit our page here: Raise the Dough for CKMU!

3. Post to your Twitter or Facebook page between April 5-12 to help get the word out!

Example Tweet: Please help me raise $100 by April 12 to support @ckmarquette and #fighthunger! #RaiseDough

Example Post: Will you help me support the Campus Kitchen at Marquette by making a donation between April 5 and April 12?  Check out their great work to end food waste and fight hunger on their fundraising page:

Together with your support, we will continue to fight hunger in our community.

Growing the movement: students take a stand against hunger in their communities

, April 5th, 2013

Students take a stand

As the Community Development Coordinator for The Campus Kitchens Project, I have the privilege of working each day with student leaders that want to start a Campus Kitchen at their school. Seeing the work of our current Campus Kitchens—last year recovering over 400,000 pounds of food that would otherwise have gone to waste and turning it into more than 250,000 meals—inspires us to grow our network and increase our impact in even more communities across the country.

From my vantage point it is easy to see that this movement is growing, and that students, staff and faculty are passionate about finding ways to reduce waste on campus and meet the food insecurity needs in their communities. These students are breaking down walls that so often surround the traditional college campus. On the one hand, they see hunger; and on the other, they see food going to waste on campus and dining halls with state of the art commercial kitchens sitting dark in the evenings. And they are ready to do something about it.

One school taking a stand against hunger in their community is Georgia Tech in Atlanta. The 6th largest city in America, Atlanta suffers from ever increasing rates of poverty and hunger. In this community, the overall food insecurity rate is 19.5%–and for children, an even more staggering rate of 23.4% food insecurity. With the need so evident, Georgia Tech found it impossible to ignore and committed to doing their part to make a change.

With our know-how and experience, and a little funding support from donors like you, they will soon be ready to launch the next Campus Kitchen.

One student leading the push, Sophia Rashid, commented, “Georgia Tech’s motto is ‘Progress and Service, defining a unique campus culture of dynamism, innovation, sustainability, and consciousness.’ In this way, the Campus Kitchens Project is the perfect framework, and the natural next step, to empower our local and broader community.” Collaborating with existing student groups, faculty and Sodexo staff on campus, this group of student leaders has realized that creating a Campus Kitchen on campus is the best possible way for Georgia Tech to use their assets to meet the needs of the Atlanta community. I am excited to see where they can take this program in the future and also excited to continue to work with other schools interested in joining our network!

To support the Campus Kitchens Project in our efforts to expand to more schools, please visit our fundraising page during the Raise the Dough Challenge, April 5-12.


Donations keep Spokane residents warm

, February 14th, 2013

Some of the hats that Carl has donated to help CKGU’s clients.

Every so often the Campus Kitchen at Gonzaga University (CKGU) gets a call from Carl.  Carl works at Spike’s, one of Sodexo’s on-campus dining facilities.  When Carl calls however, it is not to donate food.

Carl makes hats.  Lots of hats.  He picked up looming about a year and a half ago.  He says that he needed a new hobby and he and his wife enjoy relaxing with a movie and their looms.  Carl donates these handmade hats to CKGU to provide to our clients at our Community Dinner.  Carl’s hats are beautiful and he goes to the effort to try to make sizes and styles for everyone.  CKGU would like to extend a huge thank you to Carl for his generosity.  Our hat goes off to you!



Campus community gets kitchen through the lean times

, January 3rd, 2013

Jim Klenke, a supporter of CKSLU, has volunteered nearly every Sunday for over 7 years.

At the Campus Kitchen at Saint Louis University (CKSLU), we consider ourselves a student-led program. For over half of the year, students collect and deliver the food, plan the meals, lead the cooking shifts, and produce most of the fresh meals we serve our elderly, low-income, and disabled clients. There are even weeks of the year when we have more student volunteers than we can accommodate, but anyone who works in a school setting knows the seasonality of this world.

We have hungry clients all 52 weeks of the year. If you subtract summer break, fall break, thanksgiving break, winter break, spring break, and finals week, we are only left with 30 weeks during which campus is fully staffed with student volunteers. This leaves 22 weeks – over a third of the year – when we must call on our larger community to help feed clients for whom hunger never takes a vacation.

Thankfully, we have been fortunate over the years to collect a loose corps of non-student supporters who fill in during these breaks. These “friends” of the kitchen, as we call them, are loyal in their support. Many of them volunteer at the same time each year.  At this point, rather than contacting them in advance of a break, many of them contact us, to be sure to get their slot reserved.  It feels a bit like homecoming week. The weeks before and after the holidays, or in the summer, when these same faithful volunteers show up feel a little bit like homecoming week.

These groups include church groups, university staff and faculty departments, and corporate groups.  One such group, from the ITS department at Saint Louis University, have become particularly active supporters, adopting a shift each week for the months of December and May. They have come to support the kitchen outside of that time as well, holding ongoing food drives to collecting the kitchen staples (flour, cooking oil, spices) they’ve seen lacking when they come to volunteer.  Megan Greathouse, one of the regular volunteers from ITS, says that she volunteers with CKSLU because of a kindness she experienced. “Helping in Campus Kitchen is my way of helping out someone today that is not as fortunate, and repaying those who helped my family out when I was a child.”

A few non-student volunteers also help on an ongoing basis. Jim Klenke, an administrator at another local university, has been volunteering at the CKSLU nearly every Sunday for over seven years. He knows the students, the clients, and has taken a sense of ownership of the kitchen, buying much needed pots pans and utensils when he sees them on sale.

Food insecurity and chronic hunger are not simple problems; they take an entire community to combat them. If you’d like to become a part of our all-important backup team, please contact us by email at or by phone at 314-977-3881.

The Mission Continues, an agency that encourages former military members to continue to volunteer after active service has ended, volunteers at CKSLU.

Volunteer Spotlight: Tobi Idowu

, December 27th, 2012

The Campus Kitchen at UGA (CKUGA) is so grateful for our incredible volunteers. This month, we want to highlight one of our regular volunteers – Tobi Idowu. Tobi is from Nigeria and is a sophomore at UGA. She is currently seeking a degree in public relations. You can usually find her in the cooler during our food collection shift.

I sat down with Tobi to ask her about her volunteer experience thus far and what it has meant to her. Her answers show why she is such an amazing volunteer who perseveres to accomplish her tasks.

When did you first begin volunteering with Campus Kitchen?

I first volunteered with Campus Kitchen during Maymester after learning about it through my Geography 1101 professor.

What shifts have you volunteered during and which is your favorite? Why?

I have only volunteered during the food collection shift on Sundays so I guess that’s my favorite one! Sadly, I am way too busy during the week to experience the other shifts.

What made you want to get involved with Campus Kitchen?

I liked that it was very hands on. A lot of the volunteer organizations on campus mainly deal with fundraising, which is important, but I wanted to feel like I was actively involved in helping the community.

How has your volunteer experience impacted you?

Campus Kitchen collects food every week that would otherwise be thrown away. My volunteer experience has made me examine our nation’s food system and realize that 1 in 6 Americans go hungry, yet 40% of food is thrown away. It has also made me realize that a lot of people in Athens-Clarke county would go hungry without our food rescue and redistribution efforts.

What is your best asset as a volunteer?

Perseverance. I work in the cooler for most of the shift and it’s cold! I have to wrap myself up in sweaters and wear gloves. Also, it’s not easy waking up early on a Sunday morning.

What keeps you coming back each week?

I think food collection is the most important shift. Without it, no meals would be cooked to give to the senior citizens and children that count on these meals. I feel like I am making a difference in my own small way.

Why would you recommend volunteering for Campus Kitchen to other students?

It’s a great way to be actively involved in the Athens-Clarke community. There are many shifts available during the week – not just food collection but cooking, meal delivery, and harvesting and gardening, so there is something for everyone.

Fun fact about yourself:

I love powdered donuts.

TurkeyPalooza 2012

, November 21st, 2012

I love when I hear something from out of the blue that brings an exact focus to my life at that moment, as though the universe was conspiring for me to hear those words at just that time…and it happened again this morning.

The last few weeks at CKMU have been consumed by the preparation of TurkeyPalooza, our annual Thanksgiving meal-making extravaganza.  Gathering supplies, sourcing food, organizing volunteers and turkey, turkey, turkey forever on the brain.  It was one of those busy times where my end goal is sometimes just to get through it.  The stress of pulling everything together at just the right time.  And this morning (our last day of TurkeyPalooza deliveries) on my drive in to campus, I heard these words by Kathleen Norris, and it all came into focus:

 “Love can be at the center of all things, if only we will keep it there”

All told, TurkeyPalooza 2012 was a smashing success.  Not just because we provided 450 meals to our friends and neighbors in the community.  Not just because we had 7 new volunteers join us in the kitchen for the first time with plans of returning in the future.  Not just because we finished an hour earlier than expected.  While those are all awesome reasons why it was a success, TurkeyPalooza was a success because at the center of our work throughout the event was love.  Every scooped out squash and slice of pie was made with love and caring for the guest who would be nourished.  Homemade breadcrumbs were made into stuffing like my mom has made for as long as I can remember.  And mashed potatoes just like the ones I make at my family gatherings.  As we worked together to provide something special, we were also reminded of the love around our own family tables and put that into the meals we were preparing.

As TurkeyPalooza winds down, I am re-energized.  I am grateful for the work that I am so lucky to get to do – bringing people together in concern for one another.  Additionally, I am grateful for the folks that make it happen.  My Leadership Team is the best, for they have fostered this feeling in the shifts that they lead, and it reaches every volunteer who comes in our door.  At the center of our kitchen is love, and I wouldn’t have it any other way.


Happy Thanksgiving!

TurkeyPalooza is coming! TurkeyPalooza is coming!!

, November 7th, 2012

Join us for TurkeyPalooza 2012!!  Sign up here for a shift or to get more information.  We already have a lot of volunteers signed up, so get your name on the list before the shift you want fills up.  Everything starts at our kitchen (725 N 18th Street, O’Donnell Hall, north entrance).  Join us and get your turkey on!

Growing The Campus Kitchens Project: A message from the new director

, October 12th, 2012

I want to thank everyone for giving me such a warm welcome as the new Director of The Campus Kitchens Project.  When I look around at our staff, our volunteers, our Kitchen Coordinators, our funders, and at the community residents who benefited from over 250,000 meals last year, I am amazed at the power of this movement we have sparked across the country, and inspired to work alongside each of you to help it grow in the coming years.

The timeliness of our efforts cannot be underestimated.  According to the Food Research and Action Center, 14.5 percent of American households currently experience food insecurity, and these rates are astonishingly higher for Hispanic and African American households.  In a nutshell, this problem is creating a dangerous and self-perpetuating downward spiral of food insecurity, obesity, poor health, unemployment and poverty.

What I see is potential for us not only to provide healthy meals to our communities, but to grow the kind of sustainable programs that will solve systemic underlying problems and help lift people out of poverty.  I see programs that offer an opportunity for civically minded students to address the most critical issues in their community with sustainable and innovative solutions.

The first ten years of The Campus Kitchens Project were focused on getting it right.  The next should be focused on spreading this national movement, taking our best solutions and replicating them to the areas that need this promising program the most.  We’ve come a long way.  But of the ten most food insecure states, we only have Campus Kitchens in three of them.  Regionally speaking, the Southwest is one of the most food insecure regions, and we don’t yet have a Campus Kitchen there.

When you hear from me, the question I will ask will not be, “How many meals did you serve?”

The questions will be, “How are you creating a program that addresses the root causes of food insecurity in your community?”

“What are the best aspects of your program’s design and operations that we should replicate in more schools?  How are you generating sustainable funding for your own program?”

“How are you using your Campus Kitchen to train students as the next generation of leaders in the food justice movement?”

These are the opportunities and the challenges ahead of us, and I’m honored to tackle them with you.

– Laura Toscano


Laura Toscano came on board in October 2012 as the Director of The Campus Kitchens Project, a national initiative that works to engage students as the next generation of food justice leaders by empowering them to recover food from campus dining services, solicit in-kind donations, and deliver meals to the surrounding community.  At The Campus Kitchens Project, Laura brings her leading experience in nonprofit management to build a solid base of national support for this promising solution to our national food insecurity crisis, and allow it to expand to more higher education institutions across the country.  Prior to her work with The Campus Kitchens Project, she has worked in the field of social enterprise nonprofits for eight years with a focus on asset based community development, pro bono volunteerism, cross-sector engagement and scaling strategy for nonprofit organizations.  Laura holds a BA from Yale University.


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