Campus Kitchen Project receives grant to help support hunger relief initiative

By Dane Chronister

The Campus Kitchens Project announced that director and kitchen manager Alexandria Woo and Baylor University’s Campus Kitchens Project was one of 10 universities selected to receive a grant for their efforts in reducing the problem of food insecurity on Wednesday.

The American Association of Retired Persons gave Baylor $3,000 to help the university alleviate local hunger. A three-year budget from AARP, which invested $625,000 in the Campus Kitchens Project, will be spread among schools to help their local Campus Kitchens reduce hunger. Ten schools were selected nationwide to receive aid to go towards ending hunger in local areas for the next three years.

The Community Engagement and Services also helps fund the Baylor program.

“The whole purpose of the Campus Kitchen Project is to empower student volunteers to fight hunger in their communities,” said Erica Teti-Zilinskas, associate director of communications for the Campus Kitchens Project.

The Campus Kitchens Project is a nonprofit foundation that was established in 2001 and is run primarily by students who make use of their entrepreneurship and leadership skills to feed the hungry in their cities. The project has extended to 42 Campus Kitchens nationwide.

Aramark partners with Baylor’s Campus Kitchens Project to help collect food from the dining halls and provide the Waco area with meals.

“Every community, we know, is unique and different, and rural areas have different challenges than certain urban areas, which require access to fresh products and grocery stores,” Teti-Zilinskas said.

The executive committee consists of 12 members and numerous volunteers that the project relies on to help their cause.

As far as Baylor’s Campus Kitchens Project goes, students stockpile a surplus of groceries and ingredients from on-campus cafeterias, food at the faculty dining halls, local gardens and restaurants.

“Everything that we pick up from the dining halls is what they are serving that day,” Woo said.

“We take it straight to Salvation Army, where they can repurpose it or put it straight on their line.”

Started by the nonprofit organization D.C. Central Kitchen, located in Washington, D.C., The Campus Kitchens Project is considered a sister organization to the D.C. Central Kitchen.

With the same plan as the D.C. Central Kitchen in mind, the Campus Kitchens Project recovers unused foods from farms, wholesalers and other area supporters. The ingredients from these sources are used to create 5,000 meals for local residents.

“One of my main experiences that has shaped and molded me in the nutrition field is Campus Kitchens, which has been awesome because food service is a huge part of the nutrition industry,” Woo said.

The Campus Kitchens Project has a simple three-part mission: strengthen bodies, empower minds and build communities.

According to its website, the Campus Kitchens Project hopes for students to take pride in the improvement of their city’s food insecurity efforts. The site states, “If we give young people the ability to use the existing resources of their schools then they can create an effective national network of cooperative and adaptive anti-hunger programs, and in the process, develop as leaders for social change.”