The Campus Kitchens Project is a national network sponsored by DC Central Kitchen, a nonprofit organization in Washington DC. This program utilizes existing resources within college communities to fight hunger and its causes. The Dillard University Campus Kitchen is housed on the campus of Dillard University, a historically black university in New Orleans, LA. In kitchen space shared with campus dining, the program mobilizes students to recycle surplus food, prepare meals in the Campus Kitchen, and deliver those meals to agencies and individuals in the community.
Poverty is widespread in New Orleans. The DU Campus Kitchen’s 80+ student volunteers help fight hunger by cooking and delivering 650 meals per week for 15 individuals and families and seven nonprofit organizations, thereby relieving some of the strain on their budgets.
The Campus Kitchen promotes social awareness. Volunteers from Dillard, who are predominately African-American, partner regularly with the mostly Caucasian Tulane University volunteers. This fosters interaction among college students of different races, religions and socio-economic statuses, who have the common goal of bettering the community they share.
In summer of 2003, the DU Campus Kitchen partnered with two church summer camps. Volunteers provided food and education for kids who receive free or reduced meals during the school year. 47% of Dillard University students are first-generation college students, so they are excellent role models for African-American kids from low-income neighborhoods. At the Kids Café, DU Campus Kitchen volunteers share meals with the children. They consistently provide companionship, nutrition education, and mentoring for the kids.
The DU Campus Kitchen prepares and delivers meals three days a week, utilizing existing kitchen space in the university’s dining hall, donated food from Sodexho Dining Services on campus, and the energy of student, faculty, and community volunteers. Unserved food that would normally go to waste is donated to the program, and student volunteers use the kitchen space to turn that food into healthy, hearty meals. Volunteers then deliver the meals to individuals (such as homebound seniors) and agencies (such as shelters, after-school kids’ programs, and senior programs) in the community surrounding the Dillard University campus. The Campus Kitchens Project receives funding from private donors, as well as a grant from the Sodexho Foundation.
From October 2002 through October 2003, the Dillard University Campus Kitchen served over 16,000 meals to nine partner agencies, while The Campus Kitchens Project served more than 73,000 meals since its October 2001 inception. The DU Campus Kitchen engages more than 80 student volunteers from Dillard and Tulane Universities to contribute 200 volunteer hours each month. The program also provides programmatic services with its meals. For example, Campus Kitchen volunteers at a local after-school kids’ program conduct regular nutrition education sessions, led by education majors from Dillard University, to teach kids from low-income families about the importance of a balanced diet.