__Student volunteers start a chapter of Campus Kitchens at the College__
Campus Kitchens will make and distribute 117 meals a week to needy people in the Williamsburg area. The College’s chapter of the charity, started this year, takes surplus food from local donors to make meals to deliver to Avalon, the Blayton Building and three low-income housing projects — Katherine Circle Apartments, Sylvia Brown Apartments and Mimosa Woods Apartments.
p. “Since Williamsburg is a tourist town, the image is kind of glossed over, but hunger and homelessness is an issue here as much as anywhere else,” Campus Coordinator Jessica Kim ’10 said. “Williamsburg does not have a homeless shelter, so homeless people really don’t have anywhere to go.”
p. Campus Kitchens is a national organization that takes extra food from donors and redistributes it to the needy. The College’s chapter’s kitchen is located at the Commons Dining Hall, the location that Dining Services provided Campus Kitchens with to store food and make meals.
p. Members of Campus Kitchens meet behind the Commons from 8 to 10 p.m. Mondays and Thursdays to make the meals and package them into individual clamshell containers. They then deliver the food between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and between 3 and 5 p.m. Fridays.
p. They are currently getting food donations from a Trader Joe’s in Newport News and a local food pantry, A Gift From Ben.
p. “Our menus are very much based off of what food we recover that week. We have a store of staple ingredients — pasta, rice, canned fruits and vegetables, etc. — so we can make healthy meals out of what we get. Our meals have to have four basic components – protein, starch, fruit or vegetable and a dessert,” Kim said. “It’s very much a creative process; we can experiment around with different recipes.”
p. Volunteers drop off all the meals for AVALON and the Blayton Building at once, but at apartments, they have individual apartment rooms to which they deliver meals.
p. “We go up to the door and knock and give them the meal. We also try to have a good conversation with them too – getting to know the people we are helping will help us understand their situations and learn how best we can help them,” Kim said.
p. Kim interned with Campus Kitchens last year in their office in D.C. She had met two of the people who worked there when Robert Egger, found of the national Campus Kitchens Project and D.C. Central Kitchen, its parent organization, came to the College to speak last Oct.
p. Kim lives in northern Virginia, so when she heard about Campus Kitchens, she asked to work in their D.C. office.
p. “I got really excited when I heard about the Campus Kitchens program, and e-mailed one of them in November and asked if I could work at their office over winter break,” she said. “When I was working there I found out there was a senior who was already trying to get a Campus Kitchen on the College’s campus, and they got me in touch with her. After she graduated, I pretty much took over where she left off. We were both really interested in helping solve the hunger problem in our area with the abundant resources on our campus and in our community.”
p. The national program includes plans for universities to institute a culinary school for those they provide food for.
p. “We will be tweaking our operations as we find out what works and what does not; it’s a very hands-on process with a lot of planning and organization involved, and because each school with a Campus Kitchen is unique, each program is a bit different,” Kim said. “The Culinary Job Training program is something we may set up after we stabilize our basic meal preparation and delivery operations. It would be great if we could get that started before the end of this school year, but we don’t have any concrete plans for that yet.”
p. Those interested should attend Campus Kitchens’ kickoff event tomorrow from 12:30 to 2 p.m. in the University Center Chesapeake Room C. They will present their organization, recognize some of their supporters and have a food-centered interactive activity. Egger will also speak.
p. “This is a great project and people can commit as much time as they want to it. We have a bunch of one-time volunteers but hopefully as the semester progresses we’ll get a core of volunteers who are really dedicated to our cause,” Kim said. “We are planning on working with the other groups on campus that try to raise awareness of hunger problems as well as general service organizations. We make a difference in our immediate community of Williamsburg that has given us so much, and I think that the students here will respond well to that.”