By Jordan Hearne
Aramark presented a check for $3,000 to the Campus Kitchen Community Garden on Wednesday morning. The completely organic and self-sustainable garden is used to grow produce to donate to programs that feed the needy.
Campus Kitchen is a program that collects uneaten food in dining halls on college campuses and uses that food to create meals for people in need. The group also teaches classes on how to prepare the food in order to give the jobless residents in the community kitchen skills and create an environment where students can interact with the community through volunteer work. Aramark is the university’s food service provider.
The money donated to Campus Kitchen was collected from a garage sale fundraiser held by Aramark known as Bazaar Bonanaza. Employees of Aramark and Baylor Dining Services donated items to the sale, which far exceeded expectations by filling up an entire ballroom at the Hilton Garden Inn in Temple. People donated everything from random knick-knacks cluttering their garage to old pieces of furniture. Ken Pollard, district manager of facility services for Aramark, said it was the outpouring of employees and help that made the garage sale such a success.
“When you hold a garage sale at your home, you make $500 in proceeds, if you’re lucky,” Pollard said. “No one would dream of raising $6,000.” Half of the total proceeds were set aside for the garden.
The community garden is located on Ninth street and James by Browning Square apartments and is managed under the umbrella of Campus Kitchens. This fall, the Waco Family Abuse Center is among the many places that will receive fresh food.
“This is one of those jobs you derive joy from,” Pollard said.
Sharla Porter, assistant food service director for Baylor Dining Services, said that when they decided to hold the fundraiser, the goal was to “get the name out there and get support for this program.”
Clare Paul, marketing manager for Baylor Facilities, presented a life-size check to leaders of the community garden program. One of the recipients, Garden Manager Hannah Laird, who has spent most of her time preparing the garden for the upcoming season and organizing volunteers, said, “this is my baby.”
The money from Aramark will contribute to ongoing maintenance of the garden, helping with the cost of seeds and supplies. Rosemary Townsend, staff coordinator for Campus Kitchens, has big plans for the donation, saying they “have a dream list.” On that list is at least one picnic table and a small storage shed to house some of the equipment.
During the check presentation, Townsend thanked everyone and said the event was a “celebration of the partnership it takes to run this garden.” Volunteers and graduate students that work in the garden were thanked along with the Baylor community and Aramark, who, Townsend said, “are true partners all the way around.”