Student-powered hunger relief
Food waste is prevalent across the globe, but have you ever thought about how much waste might be happening on college campuses?
Americans waste 40 percent of the food that’s produced. And the average college student generates 142 pounds of food waste every year.
These statistics are staggering when nearly 15 percent in the U.S., or 47 million people, live below the poverty line.
Here’s the good news:
Many college students are becoming part of the solution. They’re teaming with dining services on their campuses, and with fellow student leaders, to build a more sustainable approach to food in their communities.
The Campus Kitchens Project, the leading national nonprofit that encourages students to fight hunger and food waste, replicated the model of the nationally-recognized DC Central Kitchen to form student-run kitchens that are preventing thousands of pounds of food from going to landfills.
Instead, they are, turning this food into nutritious meals for those who face hunger. As we highlight Global Food Rescue month, you can see that in action on the Northwestern University campus.
“In the process, we are developing student leaders and empowering them to create programs that open pathways between college and community,” says Alexander Justice Moore, chief development officer at The Campus Kitchens Project and DC Central Kitchen. “It’s food recovery and so much more.”
The General Mills Foundation has supported The Campus Kitchens Project from the start, as part of the Foundation’s effort to mitigate hunger and reduce environmental impact through food rescue.
“Supplying colleges and universities with products through our food service division is an important part of our business,” says Lesa Tieszen, director of channel marketing and industry relations for General Mills Convenience & Foodservice. “Meanwhile, in the philanthropic realm, we recognize there are both challenges and opportunities around excess food. That’s one reason why we support The Campus Kitchens Project. Now, after nearly two decades, they’re on more than 60 campuses across the country, minimizing food waste and feeding people who are hungry.”
According to Moore, the next generation of food rescuers are millennials who recognize it is wrong to throw out 40 percent of our nation’s food supply when nearly 50 million Americans are at risk of hunger.
Today, nearly 30,000 students at colleges and high schools have served more than three million meals through The Campus Kitchens Project.
Moore says every year he hears how students and alumni are motivated by serving with The Campus Kitchens Project. They remain committed to fighting hunger and poverty long after they graduate.
Recovering food and preparing meals is just the first step for students.
“Our students are learners,” says Moore. “They take what they learn managing volunteers, partnering with community agencies, and evaluating their programs and then apply it to their future careers.
“This isn’t just community service. It’s investing in the next generation of community and civic leaders.”
How can you help?
Join the cause. By visiting CampusKitchens.org, students can find everything needed to launch a Campus Kitchen at their college or high school.
Volunteering with Campus Kitchens is an amazing way to make an immediate impact while building skills in team leadership, program design, budgeting, and evaluation that equip students for successful careers.
Editor’s note: We also featured The Campus Kitchens Project in this month’s episode of the “A Taste of General Mills” podcast, along with the food rescue efforts of FareShare and Feeding America.
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