The Campus Kitchen will redistribute leftover food from the MAX
Georgia College recently won a $5,000 grant to start and support a Campus Kitchen in Milledgeville. Campus Kitchen is an organization dedicated to reducing food waste and redistributing it to help those in need.
The idea of bringing a Campus Kitchen to GC began with Office of Sustainability interns junior Julia Steele, environmental science major and public health minor, and junior Cameron Skinner, environmental science major and geology minor.
Steele and Skinner attended a Climate and Summit Conference in Atlanta last April where a student from Emory discussed the importance of reducing food waste. The student mentioned Campus Kitchen as a method of reducing waste.
“When we heard the name, it kind of just sparked our interest,” Skinner said. “We wanted to dig more into it.”
Steele and Skinner wrote a proposal for the Sustainability Council to try to bring a Campus Kitchen to GC to help reduce food waste from the MAX.
“We did all this research, said why Campus Kitchen would work at Georgia College, and that got rejected at first because we didn’t have it exactly detailed to the tee,” Steele said.
In order to qualify for the grant, the proposal needed to include support from GC’s students and staff, as well as the surrounding community.
One component the proposal was missing was a community partner. Steel and Skinner then reached out to the Life Enrichment Center, a center for people with intellectual disabilities, to see if they would be interested in partnering with GC.
“We reached out to Barbara Coleman, and she was head-over-heels for it,” Steele said. “She really liked the idea of bringing food from the MAX. She really liked the idea of students coming to the LEC and not only providing food, but also possibly sitting down and kind of going beyond the meal and engaging with them.”
Once they established that partnership, Steele and Skinner submitted another proposal. This time it was approved, and they were able to qualify for the grant competition.
In order to win the grant, GC had to compete against two other universities for the greatest number of votes. Voting took place online where students could vote once a day for a week. Georgia College won the competition with a total of 5661 votes.
Cameron Skinner, president of Earth Action and co-founder of GC's Campus Kitchen, received the news of GC's win on Monday, Nov. 6.
With the help of the grant, Steele and Skinner hope to launch Campus Kitchen by February or March of 2018.
“We want to get it going before the end of next semester,” Skinner said. “We don’t want to start right at the beginning of summer time, right when students are leaving.”
The first steps of building the program include paying a $1200 affiliate fee, purchasing kitchen supplies, and finding a kitchen space to prepare and redistribute the food. After Campus Kitchen becomes established, Skinner and Steele hope it continues to expand further into the community.
“Once the MAX can’t provide—say we grow more connections and more relationships with other community partners—we’re going to need more food, so we’re going to begin reaching out to local farmers, grocery stores, and others for their leftovers,” Steele said.
The repurposed food will be going first to the LEC and then to other residents of Milledgeville who are considered to be food insecure.
“The definition of being food insecure is not having access to three square meals a day,” Skinner explained. “That could range from students who maybe their only meal in some of the public schools is school lunch, or it could be older people who don’t like to ask for help and aren’t getting meals.”
Milledgeville has a large percentage of people who classify as food insecure. Universities are often a hub for food waste, meaning there is a lot of food that can be redistributed to those in need.
In the future, Steele and Skinner see even more opportunities to decreasing food waste and helping the community.
“We want to become one big, hunger-fighting network and maybe even establish an on-campus food bank for students because there are students who go hungry, too,” Skinner said.
The grant’s reception has sparked support for Campus Kitchen from the rest of campus.
GC President Dr. Steve Dorman said he is excited for the future and what Campus Kitchen will mean to the university and the community.
“I am thrilled our students have taken the initiative to bring a Campus Kitchen to Georgia College,” Dorman said. “Because of their dedication to sustainability, they will be able to limit waste produced by our dining services, while addressing the hunger problem within our community. These students saw a need and creatively came up with a solution. We are proud of their work and look forward to seeing our Campus Kitchen come to life.”