Volunteering Mavs: Cook something sweet at Campus Kitchen

The Campus Kitchen Project is a national non-profit organization whose goals are made possible by student volunteers. The organizations main objectives include food recovery, meal preparation, meal delivery, empowerment, and education. The organization has installations in 53 schools around the country, small and large districts, high schools, colleges and universities.

The Campus Kitchen chapter at MNSU was established in 2005.

“They used the kitchen in the basement of Gage Towers. Since its inception in 2005, Campus Kitchen at Minnesota State University, Mankato has distributed over 80,292 meals and recovered over 136,215 pounds of food. We moved to the basement of Crossroads Lutheran Campus Ministry building when Gage was torn down,” said Karen Anderson, Assistant Director of Community Engagement.

Food recovery involves the partnership between MNSU Campus Kitchen, Gustavus Adolphus Dining Hall, Panera Bread, Dickey’s BBQ, Chipotle (Madison Avenue location), Red Lobster, and Olive Garden.

Since the organization lacks a stove, the food that student volunteers pick up from the above establishments is pre-cooked “and cooled according to ServSafe expectations before we pick it up from the companies. The food is kept frozen until needed. We do distribute some food whole and still frozen to some of our partners, so that they can fix it themselves. We use thawed food for the meals we distribute, and we share cooking instructions, as well as a use-by date on the container,” described Karen.

Volunteers then prepare and deliver meals and packages to local organizations like ECHO Food Shelf, Theresa House and Welcome Inn, as well as low income families and individuals. According to the MNSU Campus Kitchen, ECHO Food Shelf receives 60 meals per week.

Hailey Gorman, a senior at MNSU studying Environmental Science and Chemistry, is a volunteer coordinator in the Campus Kitchen gardens.

“While volunteering for Campus Kitchens, I have been responsible for tracking volunteers’ hours and creating events on OrgSync so that students can RSVP to campus kitchen volunteering shifts. I also plan what is planted in the gardens, and plant, and tend the gardens,” said Gorman, when asked about her duties as a volunteer.

“Often when people think about Campus Kitchen, they only think about the meal preparation, and overlook the crucial roll we play in food recovery. We ‘harvest’ the food served from some wonderful restaurants in the area. If we didn’t rescue it, another agency probably would, but if such agencies were not around, the food would probably end up in the garbage. From a food safety standpoint, that may be the results. Fortunately, the Bill Emerson Act helps to protect our food donor partners. So long as we are all following ServSafe expectations, the food should be fine for serving,” said Gorman.

“We are currently seeking both interns and shift leaders for next semester. The deadline for applications is Nov. 21. Those seeking an internship can simply send an e-mail of interest, a copy of their resume. Students interested in serving as shift leaders can apply via our OrgSync application,” said Anderson.

“Just have fun and try to leave a positive mark after everything you do. Volunteering through Campus Kitchen is a great way to do that!” were Hailey Gorman’s final comments.

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