AUBURN, Ala — Auburn University’s Campus Kitchen organization is fighting food waste on campus and hunger in the community in a tremendous way. In fact, the organization recently received the “Kitchen of the Year Award’ at the Food Waste and Hunger Summit held at Walsh University in Ohio.
The dedicated group of student volunteers collects leftover food from kitchens on campus, such as dining halls, and then redistributes to people in the community and on-campus who need meals. Last year alone, the group collected more than 14,000 pounds of food and served more than 12,000 meals.
Campus Kitchen continues to flourish in popularity on campus as a favorite place for students to volunteer.
Freshman Devontae Lindsey receives service learning credit for a course by volunteering at Auburn University’s Campus Kitchens. He finds it educational and satisfying.
“There’s all these hungry people in the world. So, with my help, with everyone else who does Campus Kitchen, I think I can do my part, if not more,” says Lindsey.
“I was really surprised to learn how many people in the area and how many students on our campus were struggling with food insecurity,” says Campus Kitchens VP-Elect Kenzley Defler.
Defler began volunteering about a year and a half ago and never stopped.
“Getting involved with Campus Kitchens has kind of shaped what I want to do after I graduate. The more I learn about it, the more I think that focusing on food and fighting food insecurity may be something I want to do with my career,” says Defler.
And so now Campus Kitchens on the bottom floor of the Toomer Hall dormitory on the Auburn University campus is not only a way that minimizes food waste and serves the community at-large, but is also gaining momentum as way to serve students on campus who also need a meal.
“A research study [was] recently done on campus by a hunger studies class, and they found that about 30 percent of Auburn students are food insecure at some point during the year, and so we realize that this is a big need,” says Hallie Nelson, past president, and newly-elected treasurer of Campus Kitchens.
Nelson, now a senior, started volunteering three years ago. During that time, she and her peers have learned much about the face of hunger in America.
“It’s people that you know who are having trouble finding money for dinner. It’s also just people who might look like they might have enough to eat, but you don’t know their personal situation,” says Nelson.
Hallie Nelson speaks more upon the impact of Auburn’s Campus Kitchen: