Last week, after several months of preparation and planning, a group of students from Graceland University learned that they had been awarded a $5,000 grant to address issues of hunger and food waste on campus and in the Lamoni community. The grant was sponsored by The Campus Kitchens Project and Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation.
Student leader Tabitha Watson explained what drew her to the Campus Kitchen grant competition: “I chose to work on this project because if there’s anything that can be done to reduce food waste on campus and feed people who are hungry, I want to be a part of it.”
The Campus Kitchens Project is a national network of students who work to recover food from their campus dining services that would otherwise go to waste. That food is then repackaged or prepared to help serve people—both students and community members—who are facing hunger or food insecurity. As the newest member of the Campus Kitchen network, Graceland will join more than 60 colleges and universities across the country who are harnessing existing food resources to fight hunger in their communities.
Emily Smith, who works with the Lamoni Food Coalition, spoke to importance of the project: “There is no need for people to go hungry in this community, especially considering the tremendous amount of food that gets wasted annually.”
Competition for the launch grant was fierce. Students had to complete a feasibility plan, win the support of student leaders and community members, and prepare a short video to make their case. The final phase of the competition was a nationwide vote to determine the most deserving grant applicants. On the final morning of voting, only 10 votes separated Graceland from eventual-winner Georgia College and State University. Although Georgia pulled ahead in the final hours, Graceland’s 4865 votes were enough to earn second place and a $5,000 launch grant to help with startup costs.
With the news of their successful grant application, Graceland’s Campus Kitchen leadership team is beginning to plan and organize the official launch of Graceland’s campus kitchen in the spring. As the project gets underway, students will work closely with Graceland’s Dining Services staff. “The folks at Sodexo have been really supportive throughout this process,” said Dan Platt, the project’s faculty sponsor. “They share the students’ commitment to reducing food waste and fighting hunger.”
“This project has helped me realize the importance of generating positive change in the community,” said Jerome Reimers, a member of Graceland’s student leadership team. “Working on Graceland’s Campus Kitchen has changed the way I view food waste and hunger.”
**Article originally written for and submitted to the Lamoni Chronicle by Gary Rees, and edited and revised by Dan Platt.
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