Americans waste 40 percent of the food we produce, yet one in seven Americans are food insecure.
The passion and dedication of two students led to a new way to fight hunger in Milledgeville while cutting down waste from the university’s dining hall.
The Campus Kitchen at Georgia College (CKGCSU) officially launched in mid-September. As part of the national network of The Campus Kitchens Project, students will use recovered food from the university’s dining services, repackage it and deliver it to people in need in Milledgeville.
The project will start out small serving about 40 people at the Life Enrichment Center (LEC), a private nonprofit program for adults with intellectual disabilities living in and around the Baldwin County area. But the goal is to expand their services even further once the CK is fully functional.
The inspiration to bring this idea to life at Georgia College came from senior environmental science majors Julia Steele and Cameron Skinner.
“Our journey began at a Climate Summit in April 2016 where we were listening to a student panel speak on ways to reduce food waste on campus. As environmental science majors, we are both passionate about waste reduction and learning about innovative methods to deal with it,” said Skinner. “A student from another university caught our attention when she mentioned that a Campus Kitchen was working to combat excessive amounts of food waste on her campus. We followed up, and she shared with us a contact of a national representative from The Campus Kitchens Project.”
The pair have worked for about two years on the project gaining support on campus and working with The Campus Kitchens Project national headquarters in Washington D.C.
“We had our inaugural first shift on Wednesday, Sept. 12, where we repackaged and delivered food to the Creative Enrichment Center group at the LEC,” said Steele. “Moving forward we will be generally serving them two Tuesdays and one Saturday a month.”
In the interim, they will utilize the kitchens at the LEC and the MAX as they work to confirm a permanent kitchen to serve out of moving forward. Every precaution has been taken to ensure the safety of students and those benefiting from the food.
“The executive team is getting Serve Safe certified, and the kitchen we will work out of will be inspected by the Baldwin County Public Health inspector,” said Steele. “Also, the National Leadership team will come from DC to inspect the kitchen as well.”
For the students involved, it’s not just about reducing waste. It’s also about meeting a need in the community.
“We are focusing on people who are food insecure and providing them a nutritional meal—but it also goes beyond the meal. When we deliver them, we will also sit down and eat with them. Making those personal connections is important,” said Steele.
The student leaders are grateful for the support they’ve received throughout the process from the GIVE Center, Dining Services, The Campus Kitchens Project nationally, and other campus and community partners. Their goal shifts now to ensuring the future success of the organization in Milledgeville.
“Since Julia and I are both seniors, we have worked hard to secure the longevity and sustainability of this project. We have completed feasibility plans with both Dining Services and the Office of Sustainability in hopes to integrate our chapter of Campus Kitchen into the Georgia College agenda,” said Skinner. “Over this past summer, we established CKGCSU as an official Recognized Student Organization (RSO) which we believe will aid in the future success of the project.”
Nationally, The Campus Kitchens Project boasts more than 32,000 volunteers at 63 campus locations—Georgia College marks the 64th location.
“The Campus Kitchens Project is thrilled to launch our newest program at Georgia College and State University.” said Dan Abrams, Director of The Campus Kitchens Project. “Opening a kitchen in Milledgeville will provide critical resources to the community while preventing safe and wholesome food from ending up in a landfill. We look forward to helping the program grow into the future.”