University students fight hunger, food waste

Shenandoah University joined The Campus Kitchens Project, a national nonprofit encouraging students to fight hunger and food waste.

The university has formed its own Campus Kitchen – the 59th in the national network – that will collect surplus food from the campus dining facility and turn it into healthy meals for those in need.

Project leader Shelby Ellis, a junior health care management major, a $5,000 CoBank grant was used to launch the kitchen.

“This project is a student-led initiative with the help of many others at Shenandoah, such as Sodexo and the Center for Public Service & Scholarship,” she said. “Sodexo, the university’s food service provider, pointed out to us students how much food was going unused in our dining hall, and we wanted to find a solution that would help benefit our local community.”

The initiative has 15 students  working on the project at the university, she said, with hopes to gather more volunteers in the future.

“We hope to engage the whole campus,” she added.

The students will recover unused food and participate in cooking shifts in the Allen Dining Hall and then deliver the meals to the Congregational Community Action Project.

“We completed our first recovery shift on Thursday, Feb. 9,” she said. “After our shift we realized that we must change some of our procedures and we hope to complete more recovery shifts this week. We hope to be fully functional by the week of March 19, and have two shifts per week.”

She added that the amount of food collected can vary from day to day, “but we hope to donate anywhere from 50 to 150 meals per week.”

A news release stated that nationally, in the last academic year, student volunteers with The Campus Kitchens Project recovered more than 1.3 million pounds of wasted food and served nearly 350,000 meals.

Contact staff writer Kaley Toy at 540-465-5137 ext. 176, or ktoy@nvdaily.com