Health and Behavior

Curbing waste and hunger

Campus Kitchen chapter opens at JMU

PHOTO: JMU Students formed Campus Kitchen

SUMMARY: Last semester a group of JMU students won a grant from the Campus Kitchens Project national group to open an official chapter by submitting a video to a national contest.

By: Lauren Mitchell
Creative Services Student Writer

Over two years ago, JMU students started a Campus Kitchen club that collects unused food from dining halls and redistributes it to families in need all over Rockingham County. Last semester, the club won a grant from the Campus Kitchens Project national group to open an official chapter by submitting a video to a national contest. This $5,000 grant from CoBank was used to cover the start-up fee of the chapter, purchase supplies and hire a national Campus Kitchen trainer to assist with the launch. The group served their first official meal to the Harrisonburg Salvation Army shelter on January 13, 2017.

The process of becoming an official chapter did not come without obstacles. “It was like trying to reinvent the wheel at first. We didn’t know where to start or what steps to take,” explained Lucy Call, president of the chapter. Due to the length of the process, it proved to be difficult to keep members involved. However, with support and guidance from the national Campus Kitchens organization, the club became officially affiliated last semester.

PHOTO: Meal prepared

The kitchen is based out of the new quantity foods lab in the Health and Behavioral Studies building, giving the volunteers experience with a large-scale kitchen and meal planning. The chapter currently has about 30 members who work with Aramark to collect unused food from D-Hub and JMU’s catering service. In the near future, they plan to start collecting from grocery stores and restaurants as well. This food is then transformed into full meals that are delivered personally to families or organizations in Rockingham County such as the Salvation Army. They have also served a dinner at Open Doors, which was facilitated through the United Methodist Faith Community RISE. This program not only benefits the students who are learning new skills, but also the surrounding area. “It is really an effective way to create direct connections between the students and the community,” said Call.

JMU’s Campus Kitchen works beyond the traditional Campus Kitchen model. Due to the degree of local need, the volunteers have also worked with RISE to create “Love Packs” that provide food to children who may not have a meal available at home. Call learned that the best way to involve the whole community in reducing hunger is by asking for donations. “People believe in this cause. They want to help, you just have to give them the opportunity to,” she said. Through donations, they have been able to purchase important supplies such as thermometers and cooler bags.

The chapter is mostly comprised of dietetics majors, but it is not exclusive to them. Call expressed her excitement to expand the club past the major and she invites all students interested in helping this cause. Between the passion of the students and the level of involvement of the community, JMU’s Campus Kitchen chapter has a bright future of making a difference. 

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Published: Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Last Updated: Tuesday, December 8, 2020

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