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Monday, February 1, 2010

Campus Kitchens

At the intersection of sustainability and community service, the student group Campus Kitchens is hard at work helping to meet hunger needs in Gainesville while promoting sustainable attitudes towards food use. Campus Kitchens at UF was founded in 2007 as a chapter of the national organization with the mission to both recycle food and address hunger issues in the surrounding area.

Campus Kitchens works with a strong volunteer base that meets periodically in the Reitz Union kitchen to put together nutritionally balanced meals from the surplus food they acquire, including unused food from campus dining and catering services. They have an output of around 150-200 meals a week, which are delivered to various locations around the community.

Partnering organizations include Porter's Community Center, Woodland Park Boys' and Girls' Club and Lake Forest Elementary School. "We'll be picking up another partner agency this semester", said chapter president Nicole Johnson. "It is a facility for pregnant teens and teen mothers who are victims of abuse or neglect or who are homeless while they continue their education. We're excited to work with them since they need our help and it helps us diversify our clientele."

Sustainability is an important part of Campus Kitchens' mission. "The Campus Kitchens project seeks to more equitably distribute our resources of food, intellectual capacity, and space for a long-term goal of community development", said Treasurer and Fundraising Chair Amanda Monaco. "We use food that would otherwise go to waste to create meals for those in need, we draw on students' and adults' creative capacity to link community resources to increase social well-being, and we make maximum usage of kitchen facilities by using the Reitz Union kitchen while it would otherwise be sitting unused. Campus Kitchens invests itself in giving these resources to those who need them most, and assuring that this creates a positive and long-term change in our local community."

There are plenty of ways to get involved with the work Campus Kitchens is doing. Volunteers can help with the cooking shifts, participate in their nutrition education programs, or staff their special events, such as their "Stop Hunger Now!" banquet this spring. To volunteer, email Community Relations Chair Sonia Hudson.