Students to start campus kitchen for needy

| Contributing Reporter

The Washington University student group Feed St. Louis is scheduled to kick off a new campus kitchen on January 30.

Feed St. Louis currently delivers leftover Bon Appétit food to three different homeless shelters in St. Louis, and cooks meals for the homeless at Centenary Church on Sundays. The new kitchen will be located in the First Congregational Church of Christ, which is adjacent to the South 40. In the kitchen, students will have the opportunity to prepare and deliver meals to the homeless.

Feed St. Louis received a grant to start the kitchen from the Campus Kitchens Project, a national organization that partners with schools to create on-campus kitchens and prepare meals for the needy.

“The Campus Kitchens model is that you deliver to single-family homes, so you actually work with a social service agency to identify food-insecure people who need a meal on a regular basis,” said junior Karin Underwood, president of Feed St. Louis. “That’s something we hope to move toward in the future so that we can deliver to families that are really close to Wash. U.”

Feed St. Louis volunteers will cook food donated by Bon Appétit, grocery stores and local restaurants.

“We’re going to be able to prepare an actual balanced meal,” Underwood said. “We plan on hopefully working with [Bon Appétit] to hold nutrition sessions and cooking classes for our volunteers.”

Bon Appétit has donated cold storage from the old Wohl Center to the new kitchen, and it will continue to work with Feed St. Louis.

“We’re going to help them with whatever it takes,” said Nadeem Siddiqui, resident district manager of Bon Appétit. “We have talked about doing things that could help them organize and distribute and provide healthy, safe foods.”

The location of the new kitchen will make it accessible to students. “We really want students to see the need that is local to Wash. U.,” Underwood said. Underwood hopes that the proximity of the new kitchen to the South 40 will “make it less intimidating for people who wouldn’t normally volunteer.”

Feed St. Louis is recruiting volunteers, from student chefs with no prior cooking experience to shift managers for the kitchen. All shift managers will be certified to commercially prepare food.

Freshman Julianne Gagnon, who currently volunteers for Feed St. Louis, hopes to become involved with the new kitchen.

“I think it will make it more immediate for Wash. U. students because it’ll be closer,” Gagnon said. “More students will be able to see the difference that we’re making, and that’ll just get more people excited about it.”

Both Underwood and Siddiqui see long-term potential in the kitchen. The Campus Kitchens Project usually provides grant money in gradual, decreasing installments over the course of three years.

“It’s really a long-term model,” Underwood said. “They don’t want you to just start a fun student project, but this is something that they want…to start to be sustainable over the long-term.”

Siddiqui noted that the structure of Feed St. Louis gives the project long-term potential because of the variety of students involved.

“We hope that it’ll grow and be part of Wash. U.’s campus identity,” Underwood said.

The Feed St. Louis kitchen exemplifies students’ eagerness to volunteer. “One of the core factors of this campus is students generally like to help others,” Siddiqui said. Underwood hopes that every student will have volunteered in the kitchen by the time they graduate.

“I’m just really happy to be part of this program,” Siddiqui said. “It really is meaningful to me personally, and I think it is quite meaningful for students.”