40% of food in America is wasted every year, yet 1 out of 6 people are hungry or at risk of hunger. That number increases to 1 in 5 in Athens, GA. Campus Kitchen at UGA is doing something about it. In the Spring of 2011, Campus Kitchen of UGA partnered with the Athens Community Council on Aging to help reduce senior hunger in the Athens area.
Campus Kitchen collects food from local businesses such as Jimmy Johns, Subway, the Food Bank of Northeast Georgia, Alpha Gamma Delta, Georgia Center for Continuing Education Conference Center and Hotel, and the Athens Area Emergency Food Bank, Trader Joe’s and the UGArden and prepares meals that are brought to seniors that are food insecure. The program focuses mainly with the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren and Home Delivered Meals programs. In fiscal year 2012, Campus Kitchen at UGA prepared and packaged 2,070 balanced meals that were delivered to these seniors homes. “Campus Kitchen has really helped bridge some of the gap that many older adults and grandfamilies have when trying to get enough food for themselves and their families. Having these meals brought to their door and the intergenerational socialization that comes along with it is an added bonus. It’s the icing on the cake,” stated Paige Tidwell, the Program Director for the Grandparents Raising Grandchildren program at ACCA.
Campus Kitchen at UGA’s mission is to reduce food waste while simultaneously feeding a vulnerable population of seniors in the Athens area through a student powered food rescue and redistribution initiative. Sarah Jackson, Campus Kitchen of UGA’s Program Coordinator and Shannon Wilder, founding director of the Office of Student Learning have been instrumental in building this program. “The appeal, I think, for a lot of students is that you can get involved in a lot of different ways. The garden is a really cool opportunity for students to come out and actually see where the food comes from and follow it all the way through the process to where it ends up,” said Sarah Jackson. Jittery Joe’s Coffee and Talmage Terrace Lanier Gardens are both donating kitchen space to this program where the food is organized, cooked and prepped for distribution.
To date, more than 250 students have volunteered with this program and it is continuing to grow. Campus Kitchen at UGA officially launched as a member the national Campus Kitchen Project. The event was held from 1:00 p.m. until 2:30 p.m. at Athens Community Council on Aging. Campus Kitchen at UGA is now one of only 33 schools in the country and the first in Georgia to have this program. Robert Egger, Founder and President of DC Central Kitchen and Campus Kitchen Project made the trip to Athens from St. Louis for the launch. Other speakers were Eve Anthony, COO of ACCA, recipients of the Campus Kitchen meals, and student volunteers.