Elyssa J. Salinas

August 27, 2015

Last night I went to the grocery store near closing, and I noticed how much food was still out in the produce section. There was an abundance of avocados, a plethora of pears and a bounty of bananas. There was no way that this would sell out by closing, so I wondered, what will happen to this food?

When we throw out our garbage, how much is food waste? We throw away leftovers, excess food that goes bad and remnants from our cooking. In larger settings like restaurants and schools, much of the food prepared for large groups may go unused. Food waste is astronomical in the United States, but how does that compare to the multitudes of people who go hungry every day? The Campus Kitchens Project, based in Washington, D.C., is working to raise awareness about food waste and hunger and to help college and university students do something about both.


The project makes use of the leftover, quality food from schools and grocery stores that would otherwise be wasted and uses it for meals in the community. Students run Campus Kitchens at their university or college and are able to have hands-on experience in running a non-profit initiative while working with partners in their local communities. There are currently 45 schools that are part of this initiative, which spans the country from coast to coast. The project’s mission is to strengthen bodies, empower minds and build communities through empowering and educating students about what they can do to combat food insecurity in this country.

Every Campus Kitchen has the same general model to combat food insecurity in its community. Waste is curbed with food recovery that takes uneaten, quality food from places like campus dining services or local grocery stores. There is meal preparation, which trains volunteers to use the donations to create balanced and healthy meals. Meals are delivered to organizations or families in the area where the students make connections with the recipients. These connections enable the students to get a better understanding of the issue of hunger through relationships and conversations. These Campus Kitchens also provide education and empowerment to families in the community, including culinary training with unemployed adults and children’s programs on nutrition.

Through an Education and Networking Grant, ELCA World Hunger has helped support The Campus Kitchens Project’s work to promote opportunity and raise awareness about food insecurity.  ELCA World Hunger and the project agree that hunger cannot be solved by food alone. Education, advocacy and, especially, building relationships within communities are key parts in stopping hunger for good. At Campus Kitchens, as at many ELCA World Hunger-supported ministry sites, food is an entry point for a deeper, long-lasting relationship with neighbors.

To learn more about The Campus Kitchens Project please visit http://www.campuskitchens.org/start-a-kitchen/ or email Matt Schnarr, the Expansion and Partnerships Manager at mschnarr@campuskitchens.org.

To learn more about ELCA World Hunger Education and Networking grants, visit http://elca.org/News-and-Events/blogs/ELCAWorldHunger/646.

Elyssa Salinas is program assistant for hunger education with ELCA World Hunger.  Please direct comments or questions to Hunger@ELCA.org.