Cook, deliver and serve through Campus Kitchen

| Staff Reporter

Freshman Bennett Rosenblatt (center), Campus Kitchen Public Relations Officer, grabs some food during the Campus Kitchen kick-off reception. Wash. U.'s newly founded chapter of Campus Kitchen, an student-run operation, cooks salvaged food from Bon Appétit and delivers it to shelters in the St. Louis area. (Johann Qua Hiansen | Student Life)

Bam! After baking eggplant Parmesan, boiling greens and dicing melon, a group of Washington University students delivered food to The Shalom House—a special needs women’s shelter—and spent an afternoon eating and playing Jenga with the residents last Saturday.

This event was not a one-day volunteering endeavor. On the contrary, the event marked the inauguration of the University’s newly founded chapter of Campus Kitchen.

Beginning this semester, Wash. U. students can continue the service by volunteering to cook salvaged food, delivering it to shelters in St. Louis and eating with the clients they serve.

Instead of buying ingredients, Campus Kitchen only uses excess food salvaged from Bon Appétit and partner organizations such as Operation Food Search.

From the select ingredients procured, shift captains unleash their creativity and devise recipes, leading a group of 10 to 12 students to prepare a meal for about 40 people.

While the chapter founders originally had difficulty finding a place to cook on campus, they partnered with First Congregational Church, which has agreed to let Campus Kitchen use its industrial-sized kitchen.

Not only does First Congregational Church offer the necessary space and facilities, it is located right behind Hitzeman Hall and is a short walk from the South 40.

In addition to delivering the food to The Shalom House, student volunteers also deliver to Our Lady’s Inn, a shelter for pregnant women or women who have recently given birth. Both of these shelters are within 10 miles of the University.

Although Campus Kitchen launched its operation only last weekend, it has already received warm support from students.

Bennett Rosenblatt, a freshman who was attracted to the organization’s mission and now serves as a public relations officer, shared why he enjoyed Campus Kitchen at the kick-off reception.

“Cooking is a pretty popular thing­—a lot of people like to cook—so [people] can fuse their interest in cooking with actually helping people directly,” Rosenblatt said. “Why not just cook and help people out?”

Sophia Cinel, one of the shift captains for the kick-off delivery, also shared where she finds enjoyment in her involvement. “Not only can you cook the food for them, you get to go there and eat with the clients and interact with the clients and meet up with them, so you get really see what you get involved with and who you are helping,” Cinel said.

As of now, Campus Kitchen hosts two cooking shifts per week—one from 7 p.m. to 9 p.m. on Wednesdays and one from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays—and two delivery shifts—one from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and another from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Saturdays.

In the coming semesters, however, the leadership core is interested in adding an additional shift to accommodate the many students who have expressed an interest in volunteering for Campus Kitchen.

One of the most notable aspects of Campus Kitchen is that passionate students run the entire operation.

“Our entire operation is student-run,” said sophomore Catherine D’Antonio, president of Campus Kitchen. “Our students run our shifts, our students plan the shifts, our students deliver the food, our students cook the food. I love the empowerment that Campus Kitchen offers to students at Wash. U.”

D’Antonio spoke of her passion for the program: “I fell in love with Campus Kitchen probably in our training—during the first meal that we cooked. It was just the most fun thing.”

Stephanie Kurtzman, director of the Community Service Office, applauds the students’ initiative and places high hopes on this new organization.

“I am incredibly proud that they finally got to this place,” Kurtzman said. “I believe this is going to grow over time and become a staple and tradition at Wash. U. and become something that we can all be really proud of.”

  • http://www.womenshelters.org Karen

    it’s refreshing to learn that there are a group of people willing to make an impact in this society. Probably this particular system can be applied to women’s shelters, where passionate students run the entire operation.