Campus Kitchen: UVA students recycle the food
Third-year Mike Rusie spent a recent Friday morning volunteering at the Local Food Hub. In exchange, he received sweet potatoes, carrots, and spaghetti squash– "donation-grade produce"– for UVA's Campus Kitchen Project, food that will end up on the table at Salvation Army.
The student group's mission is a "community-powered hunger relief effort," says Nicole Freeman, co-coordinator for Campus Kitchen. "We take food the dining halls would otherwise throw away."
Observatory Hill Dining Hall gives them leftovers that were cooked but not served, and space to cook three times a week. Its location in the center of dorms near Scott Stadium makes it easier for first-years to volunteer, adds Freeman.
The students take the meals they prepared to Salvation Army and the mental illness support org On Our Own.
"In October we served 900 meals total," says Freeman. "We're always looking to expand."
Campus Kitchens is a national organization, and the UVA branch began in spring 2010. About 35 students are regular volunteers, says Freeman.
For Thanksgiving, the UVA group either cooked or got the fixings for 15 families, aided by donations from Sweethaus bakery, the UVA Baking Club, and two sororities.
Next semester, Campus Kitchen will partner with the UVA Hellenic Society. "They won a $1,000 grant from their national organization to help us," says Freeman, a third-year commerce student.
The group has upcoming events: The Soup-er Bowl, a pre-Super Bowl food drive at Kroger, and March Matchness, a donation competition among the Campus Kitchens nationally.
Isiah Manolo, a third-year Spanish major, is Freeman's co-coordinator, and he's also interested in sustainability. "There's a lot of sustainability in Campus Kitchen," he says.
Freeman has been involved since she was a first year, and she values the leadership opportunities that come with running events and coordinating volunteers.
"It struck me as a way to get involved in the community and have an impact," she says, "even if it's just for four years."