Savannah Norton, Lifestyle Editor
Mason has recently partnered with the Campus Kitchens Project, the nation’s largest student movement to end hunger and food waste.
On Sept. 23, Mason officially joined Campus Kitchens and officially launched its own Campus Kitchen to address local hunger and food waste in the Fairfax community. Mason’s is the forty-seventh Campus Kitchen to join the national network. Since 2001, the Campus Kitchen national organization has empowered student volunteers to turn wasted food into healthy, balanced meals for the community.
With the help of Campus Kitchens, students from all around the country have been taking food waste from dining halls, community gardens, restaurants and grocery stores and transforming them into healthy meals. They have also been promoting the use of sustainable solutions for addressing hunger and food insecurity in their communities.
“One of the values we reinforce with our Campus Kitchen chapters is that we’ll never end hunger with food alone,” said Campus Kitchens Project Director, Laura Toscano. “Our student volunteers have the opportunity to use the existing resources on campus to not only deliver meals, but to create and test new solutions to the root causes of hunger. We’re teaching the students we work with to go beyond the idea of traditional charity and look for those levers of change that will change the underlying systemic problems.”
Next Friday, October 23, Mason Dining will be hosting a World Food Day celebration that will focus on helping communities overcome hunger. The event will be the a culmination of a week-long food drive organized by Campus Kitchens student volunteers and will feature a showcase of the various plans Campus Kitchens has for its first year at Mason. As part of the celebration, a “local market” will be set up outside of Southside where student organizations that promote sustainability, like President Park’s Greenhouse partnership with the Office of Sustainability and Mason Dining, will be at tables to display some of Mason’s efforts.
“On behalf of all the students involved with the Campus Kitchen at GMU, we are thrilled to officially launch,” said Kyle Brooks, president of Campus Kitchens at Mason, said in a press release. “We are extremely grateful for the support from our sponsoring office, Auxiliary Enterprises, as well as Sodexo and Mason Dining. Though Fairfax is one of the wealthiest counties in America, there are many in our community who are food insecure. We look forward to a bright future for our Campus Kitchen and all of those who will benefit from our efforts.”
Mason is the fifth Campus Kitchen in Virginia, joining the Kitchens at Washington and Lee University, William and Mary, Virginia Tech and University of Virginia. Mason is one of the five schools that participated in the AARP-sponsored Campus Kitchens launch grant video competition in October 2014, for which representatives created videos explaining why their community would benefit from a Campus Kitchen. According to Campus Kitchen’s official website, Mason’s video received more than 1,170 votes.
The Campus Kitchen at Mason will host cooking shifts at Southside Dining Hall and will recover excess food from Southside, the Globe and Mason Catering. Volunteers will begin holding meal services at Cornerstones and the Katherine Hanley Shelter. They plan to add more client agencies as the organization expands on campus.
In the last academic year, Campus Kitchens across the U.S. have preserved more than 972,664 pounds of food and served 310,948 meals.
Students interested in volunteering with The Campus Kitchens Project can contact firstname.lastname@example.org for volunteer opportunities.