Auburn’s Campus Kitchen hungers for more in new year

Published: January 10, 2018
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Entering a new year can be an exciting time, full of hope and expectations; but not for everyone. The festivities accompanying the new year can be anything but ideal for individuals, families and even Auburn University students who lack access to adequate, healthy food.

Auburn's student-led food recovery organization, Campus Kitchens Project, works to combat food waste and hunger in the Auburn area by recovering leftover food from on-campus dining halls, fraternity houses and, as of the end of 2017, the Golden Corral restaurant in Opelika. Student volunteers package meals from food they recover and deliver them to 13 partnering agencies, as well as homebound individuals in need. They also provide meals for Auburn students each Friday.

But student volunteers aren't alone in the fight against food insecurity and hunger.

Publix Super Market Charities recently gave $5,000 to the Campus Kitchens Project to ensure that the student organization continues to have the resources necessary to meet hunger needs in the community— on and off campus.

"We're grateful for the gift from Publix and look forward to partnering with them," said Kenzley Defler, a 21-year-old senior majoring in environmental science and vice president of Auburn's Campus Kitchen. "Our program continues to grow, and gifts like this mean we can do more to address the hunger needs in our community."

One of the organization's goals for this year includes improving the program's sustainability. Through Tiger Giving Day on Feb. 21, the university's 24-hour crowd-funding initiative at TigerGiving.org, Campus Kitchen volunteers hope to raise enough funds to purchase reusable pans and boxes to replace the aluminum supplies they currently use. A sink, garbage disposal, dishwasher and expanded counter space to package and prepare meals are also on their wish list.

In 2017, 585 student volunteers collected more than 21,000 pounds of food and prepared more than 15,000 meals. Volunteer leaders expect to package and deliver even more recovered food in 2018.

The Campus Kitchens Project is sponsored by University Outreach's Office of Public Service. Partnering with organizations like Publix Super Markets Charities, which dedicate time and resources to make a difference in their communities, is just one of the ways Campus Kitchen student leaders intend to grow their program and reach even more people struggling with food insecurity in 2018.

"We're always looking for partners to help us reach as many people as we can," Defler said. "Hunger is not always visible, but the need to help those without reliable access to nutritionally balanced food is definitely real, and we plan to do even more to meet that need in 2018."

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Auburn University is a nationally ranked land grant institution recognized for its commitment to world-class scholarship, interdisciplinary research and an undergraduate education experience second to none. Auburn is home to more than 29,000 students, and its faculty and research partners collaborate to develop and deliver meaningful scholarship, science and technology-based advancements that meet pressing regional, national and global needs. Auburn's commitment to active student engagement, professional success and public/private partnership drives a growing reputation for outreach and extension that delivers broad economic, health and societal impact. Auburn's mission to educate, discover and collaborate drives its expanding impact on the world.