Volunteers cook for kindness

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November 17, 2009

2:27 AM

With a quick swipe of a student identification card, students can easily find themselves gaining pounds with pizza, pasta and soft-serve ice cream. Many people take the abundant availability of food for granted, but some students recognize that food is a luxury. The Campus Kitchens at William and Mary is an affiliate of the national volunteer organization that tries to help those in the community who do not have this luxury.

According to co-coordinator and founder of CKWM Jessica Kim ’10, a Campus Kitchens Project is a national non-profit with campus kitchens located in 20 different sites around the United States. This makes the Campus Kitchen at William and Mary both a student-run non-profit and a typical student organization.

The project’s task is simple: Repackage and distribute uneaten food from local grocery stores and pantries, to low-income families in housing communities, such as the Blayton Community or Avalon. All work is done under a mission statement that aims to reinforce health, develop communities, and empower minds.

“We have the two-fold goal of helping to alleviate the hunger problems in our Williamsburg community while simultaneously reducing food waste in the area,” Kim said.

Twice a week, students cook in the kitchen at Williamsburg Presbyterian Church. These students turn the food donated by Trader Joe’s and A Gift from Ben into healthy meals. Students then deliver the meals to local housing communities. The whole process, led by the Food Resource and Recovery Co-Chairs Sandi Wetzel ’11 and Kyle Ogilvie ’11, is completed every week.

“We rarely buy food,” Molly Bulman ’12, the finance and fundraising chair, said. “For the most part, our donations on Sunday and Thursday mornings are enough to get us through the cooking shift.”

Bulman works hard to make sure that the money, used for programming purposes is enough to keep the organization on its feet.

“I work with the co-coordinators, Timmy Siverd ’12 and Jess Kim, to manage our organization’s budget,” Bulman said. “Money’s tight, and we keep it that way.”

Recently, Bulman organized Homecoming’s Taste of the Town to raise money for Turkeypalooza, an event that provides turkeys for low-income families during the holidays. CKWM would not be successful without the help of student volunteers.

“I heard of CKWM during my freshman year and decided to volunteer on a cooking and delivery shift,” Siverd said. “When an executive board position opened up, I decided to apply for it so I could spend more of my time working with CKWM. I got that position and have worked heavily with CKWM for the past year, and have loved every minute.”

The organization is an affiliate of the Office of Community Engagement and Services. Students can participate once or on a regular basis by registering through the website, Wmpeople.wm.edu/campuskitchenwm, but the experiences that come with participation in the program far outweigh the hours spent working.

“CKWM has made a huge impact on my life because it has made up so much of my involvement on campus,” Kim said. “I have really learned a lot about the issues that face our community.”

“I am truly in love with Friday delivery shifts,” Bulman said. “There’s a huge community of kids living there, and it’s nice to just play for a change. They don’t see us as outsiders because we have become regulars. We’re more than partners, we’re family.”

“My favorite memory would probably be our Turkeypalooza event last Thanksgiving,” Kim said. “We went around to our clients’ houses delivering grocery bags full of food for their Thanksgiving meals, and they were just so appreciative. It really made me realize that what we do does actually make a difference in their lives.”

This year’s Turkeypalooza is scheduled for Nov. 23. A Thanksgiving feast will be held for families living in the Blayton Building on Scotland Street.

The team, however, will continue to cook long after the holiday festivities are over.
“Hunger is a problem that is prevalent in each community,” Kim said. “We hope to do our part by preparing students to help tackle the issue once they leave the College.”

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