Campus Kitchen comes to ECU

Kim Caudle and chef Phil Smith explain how the new Campus Kitchen will package unserved food from Campus Dining and catering.

For years, the question Mike Lysaght, Aramark resident district manager, has received the most often is, “What do you do with all that leftover food?”

Now, he has a great answer.

Beginning this week, the Campus Kitchen at East Carolina University, will package unserved food from Campus Dining and catering into balanced, nutritious meals and deliver them locally to those in need at the Ronald McDonald House and the Little Willie Center.

Campus Kitchen Inset 1

A celebration was held at the grand opening of the Campus Kitchen on February 25, 2010.

The Campus Kitchens Project is a national effort to help combat hunger by working with college campuses, high schools, and community partners to save the food from campus dining halls, restaurants, grocery stores, and other venues that goes unserved or unsold. There are currently 21 partner institutions nationwide, with ECU being the first Campus Kitchen in the UNC system. The program reached a milestone in October of last year when the one millionth Campus Kitchen meal was served.

ECU’s Campus Kitchen will operate out of Todd Dining Hall and will be staffed completely by student volunteers.

“Our students volunteer thousands and thousands of hours each year, and this is just another opportunity for our students to work and collaborate with the community. Our motto is To Serve, so I think this fits right in to the philosophy of East Carolina’s mission and its goals. This is a great collaboration between academic affairs and student life and we are proud to have [Campus Kitchens] on our campus,” said Lynn Roeder, Dean of Students at ECU.

The project will start with one preparation and one delivery shift each week. The first and third week of each month will provide meals to the Little Willie Center and the second and fourth weeks will provide meals to the Ronald McDonald house. According to Shawn Moore, community partner coordinator for the Volunteer and Service Learning Center, the plan for Campus Kitchens is to start small and expand to include more shifts and more community partners.

“I hope by the fall we will be adding partners and adding shifts, because we will have run the program through our toughest time, the summer, when students aren’t here,” she said. “We are starting small so we can ensure we grow the program thoughtfully and meet our obligations.”

To grow, Campus Kitchens will need to recruit more student volunteers and more community partners to donate food. The student leaders for the project, Kelly Pippin, Sarah Schach, and Charisse Stevens, don’t believe the former will be a problem.

Campus Kitchen Inset 2

Kim Caudle and chef Phil Smith review the supplies in the kitchen.

“The people I’ve told about the program are really excited about it. It’s an easy program to get involved with because it’s right here on campus. And for people who want to help deliver the meals, all of the transportation is provided,” said Stevens.

Pippin believes that the sustainability aspect of the program will appeal to students.

“I think a lot of people are concerned about waste, but until now, they haven’t known a way to do anything about it. We already have e-mail list of interested students and we will be putting together a Web site and a Facebook page to recruit volunteers,” she said.

Another advantage of the program for busy students is the hours. Both meal preparation and delivery shifts will take place from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., a time that is less intrusive on class schedules.

But perhaps the most importantly, Campus Kitchens will help students realize that hunger exists here locally, and empower them to do something about it.

To become a Campus Kitchens volunteer, please contact the Volunteer and Service Learning Center.