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Program Features

The operational goals of the Campus Kitchen are straightforward: to (a) recover food that would normally be thrown away (promote food sustainability); and (b) repurpose food into nutritious meals that arc then distributed to individuals and groups in need (combat food insecurity). Campus Kitchen accomplishes the first goal in a robust way, recovering an average of 1,200 pounds of food each week that would normally be thrown away. CKSLU also accomplishes this goal through its efforts to expand composting efforts in the dining halls and other kitchens on campus.

After recovering the food and reducing waste, the Campus Kitchen cooks over 400 meals each week and delivers them to six community partners, including transitional housing programs, apartments with elderly and disabled individuals, and homeless shelters. An additional four nonprofit organizations access the food that is recovered directly from Campus Kitchen and use it to feed their own clients. It is estimated that nearly 600 individuals are fed each week through the efforts of CKSLU.

The Campus Kitchen also provides an environment that is ripe for community-based learning experiences. Students have substantive opportunities to investigate and promote various food justice and hunger advocacy initiatives, as well as form meaningful personal relationships with those whom they serve. Students come from a variety of academic disciplines while engaging in service-learning with CKSLU, such as Public Health, Nutrition and Dietetics, Theology, Sociology, and beyond. The kitchen serves as the most popular site at which SLU students volunteer, with over 750 participants each year. Campus Kitchen volunteers learn everything from the practical skills of food preparation to a growing awareness about food insecurity in the community. Although hunger is a prevalent community issue in St. Louis, especially in the areas immediately surrounding the University, many students remain unaware of the seriousness of the problem. As one of CKSLU’s student leaders remarked: “It’s the blinders thing - literally there are people right across the street from our campus that do have these problems and arc anxious about where their food is coming from.” Accordingly, the leaders of the CKSLU team emphasize the local community’s struggle with food insecurity, as well as the impact this knowledge has had on them. One leader commented:

It’s very important that students see how prevalent food insecurity is in St. Louis and be aware of that social issue. But not only that ... to be aware of how close it is to campus ... to deliver a food box to your neighbor is a very humbling experience.

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