The Campus Kitchen at Utah State University is working to put the food on campus to better use. The Campus Kitchens Project is a nonprofit program designed to help reduce food waste and increase food security in communities across the nation. The Logan chapter of this organization was officially launched near the end of 2018.
“We pick up all the bread, pastries, and Aggies Eats items that weren’t sold, and we bring them to SNAC pantry. Last year, our volunteers recovered 21,000 pounds of food,” said Kara Bachman, Campus Kitchen at USU partner.
Bachman works at the Student Nutrition Access Center and sees the need for nutrition resources.
“Students don’t always have the time to make meals or have access to balanced meals, so as part of Campus Kitchen USU, we want to make balanced meals for students,” she said.
In addition to working with USU Dining Services and Catering to reduce food waste on campus, The Campus Kitchen at USU has also partnered with local businesses Sweeto Burrito and Juniper Take Out and Restaurant to collect leftover food. The club takes this food to their kitchen, located in the The Hub, and creates balanced meals for students to pick up at SNAC.
Jackie Hendrickson, a representative of the Hunger Solutions Institute, explained that although many don’t realize it, there is a “hidden hunger” among students.
Hendrickson and the Hunger Solutions Institute collaborated with Food $ense to examine food security on campus last year. Their survey showed that 32 percent of students were experiencing food insecurity.
“Everyone eats and know the importance of food. Helping people get food and be able to have that can have a lot of benefits,” Hendrickson said. “If you knew that your neighbor was hungry, you’d have no problem giving them your food.”
The Campus Kitchen at USU recognizes this issue and is taking action, but it can be a complicated task.
Cassandra Twiggs, president of The Campus Kitchen at USU, explained that they want to create meals like grilled cheese, soup, salads, or breakfast sandwiches. They have be creative in what they make in order to meet food safety guidelines, which specify that food can only be heated twice.
“If the restaurant heats it, and then the consumer wants to heat it, then we can’t,” Twiggs said. “We have to figure out how these meals can work without heating them.”
The Campus Kitchen at USU said that they need lot of volunteers to help with tasks like campus and restaurant food recovery or running the SNAC pantry. The Campus Kitchen at USU is even offering to pay for students to get a food handler’s permit so they can help prep meals in the kitchen.
Despite the challenges of tackling hunger, Twiggs believes in food’s ability to bring communities together. “Food connects everyone,” she said. “I think we should care because we are a Aggie family. You shouldn’t let one of your siblings go hungry. You are always going to reach out to help your family.”
For more information on The Campus Kitchen at USU, visit their Instagram or connect with them on AggieSync.