Campus feeding the city
Published 4:00 am Friday, November 13, 2015
Campus Kitchens had a birthday party Thursday, celebrating one year of operation. The party also served to recognize the group’s hard worker and those who have played a major role as supporters.
Campus Kitchens is an organization that collects leftover food prepared for students on campus and delivers meals to those in the community who need it.
“We are gathering the food that has already been prepared but not served due to lack of demand or lack of people coming in the building,” said Jonathan Cellon, coordinator of service learning and civic engagement at Troy University. “They set aside the food over the course of a week. We … portion it into meals, freeze it, then deliver the meals every Friday.”
Campus Kitchens delivers 120 meals to Headstart, 30 meals to the Christian Love Center, five to 10 to the Colley Senior Complex and the leftovers go the Open Gym Program at First Baptist Church.
“It seems so simple,” said Leebo Tyler, president of Campus Kitchens. “We have a lot of food, then it’s getting thrown out, and that’s a problem. Now we have something to do about it.”
Tyler recalls a time in his life where he realized the need and his place to help out.
“I remember sitting in my dorm as a freshmen, and I was hungry for about four hours,” Tyler said. “Then I started to think about how people live like this. I realized that I needed to do something about it because I am blessed to be able to live in these facilities. This is just a way to help out.”
Campus Kitchens includes undergraduate and graduate students, allowing university students of all kinds to participate.
Holly Elkins, a graduate student, has participated with Campus Kitchens since its beginning this time last year.
“Campus Kitchens is important to me because it serves a direct need in the community,” Elkins said. “We know that we are providing something useable and tangible to someone who needs it.”
Elkins said that it is also beneficial to the university because it is no longer wasting food that has already been paid for by the students.
“I’m so excited and impressed by what we have been able to pull off in this past year,” Elkins said. “I didn’t imagine that we could save as much food as we did, and I didn’t realize how much food we were throwing out at the end of every day. It’s been really eye-opening to me.”
Campus Kitchens has provided 5,163 meals in the past year with food that would have otherwise been thrown away.
Campus Kitchens recognized two organizations for supporting throughout the year. Chicken Salad Chick held a fundraiser, selling coupons that could be used in store. They raised $1,064.97. The Troy University Hospitality Sport and Tourism Management held a 5K, raising $1,200.
Campus Kitchens also recognized Trojan Dining and Sodexo.
“Without them, the supply of food and the partnership, none of this would be possible,” Cellon said.
It’s more than just feeding people in the community, Cellon said. Campus Kitchens uses different avenues to give an educational approach. Campus Kitchens has been able to expand existing community gardens and create more, with the help of a $5,000 grant they received this year.
“Beyond the meal prep, we have been able to use the gardens as a tool for education,” Cellon said. “We are teaching seniors, as well as young adults, the elements of proper nutrition and exercise.”
Community gardens already existed at the Christian Love Center and the Colley Senior Complex, and Campus Kitchens has worked to expand their production. Campus Kitchens also created a new garden at the Boys and Girls Club.
“I think that has an opportunity to expand,” Cellon said. “We are really excited about the educational efforts beyond the preparation of the meals.”