A Campus Kitchen is an on-campus student service program that is a member of the nonprofit organization, The Campus Kitchens Project. At a Campus Kitchen, students use on-campus kitchen space and donated food from their cafeterias to prepare and deliver nourishing meals to their communities.
The organization is headquartered in Washington, D.C. on the campus of Gonzaga College High School. There are currently 45 Campus Kitchens, located in Saint Louis, Missouri; Greater Chicago, Illinois; Milwaukee, Wisconsin; Minneapolis, Minnesota; Spokane, Washington; Mankato, Minnesota; Washington, D.C.; Lexington, Virginia; Winston-Salem, North Carolina; Kearney, Nebraska; Williamsburg, Virginia; Gettysburg, Pennsylvania; Baltimore, Maryland; and more (see full list of Campus Kitchens below).
- Each Campus Kitchen is hosted by a school who shares space in one dining hall’s kitchen, which is termed the “Campus Kitchen.” (Usually, this space is used during less busy or off-hours for the dining hall, such as evenings and weekends.)
- Students go to dining halls and cafeterias at designated times to pick up unserved, usable food. (The dining services companies who donate are protected from liability concerns under the Bill Emerson Good Samaritan Food Donation Act.)
- Students prepare meals using that donated food, as well as food from local food banks, restaurants, grocery stores and farmers markets.
- Then, students deliver meals free of charge to individuals and agencies in the school’s neighboring community in need of food assistance. Agencies include homeless shelters, food banks, soup kitchens, and individuals or families in need of food assistance.
- Student volunteers also provide empowerment-based education to clients, such as nutrition education to children, healthy cooking classes to families and culinary job training to unemployed adults.
The Campus Kitchens Project was developed in 2001 as a national outgrowth of DC Central Kitchen, a successful local community kitchen model in Washington DC. The way it happened was kind of a marriage of two concepts.
In 1989, Robert Egger, founder and CEO of DC Central Kitchen, pioneered the idea of recycling food from around Washington DC and using it as a tool to train unemployed adults to develop valuable work skills. DCCK became a national model, and as the idea grew, Robert was looking for a way to engage schools in the effort. He piloted a job training program with the American School Food Service, he regularly engaged high school and college students as volunteers at DCCK, and he spoke at universities all over the country.
In 1999, two Wake Forest University students, Jessica Shortall and Karen Borchert, created a small student organization called Homerun that engaged students in cooking and delivering dinners to folks in the community. What started as a hobby instead became a successful campus organization.
- Northwestern University Observer: September 23, 2004 - Campus Kitchen puts food on the table
- Stop Hunger - The Campus Kitchens Project
- Saint Louis University Newslink: September 21, 2006: SLU Campus Kitchen Celebrates Five Years
- Washington Post: January 24, 2009: A Fresh Look at How to Best Get Food to 35 Million
- Gonzaga Bulletin: February 13, 2009: Campus Kitchen Keeps Bellies Full