[Hpn] College Students Serve Dining Room Leftovers To The Poor, Homeless

William Charles Tinker wtinker@metrocast.net
Thu, 6 Oct 2005 19:44:18 -0400

      Posted on Thu, Oct. 06, 2005

      College students serve dining hall leftovers to poor, homeless

      October 6, 2005


      Associated Press

      SPOKANE, Wash. - Many college students complain about dorm food, but
Walletta Hayes can't get enough of the fare served at Gonzaga University
dining halls.

      It's been more than 40 years since Hayes attended college, but twice a
week, student volunteers from nearby Gonzaga bring her dinners from dining
hall leftovers that otherwise would have gone to waste.

      "I think this is better than the dorm foods I used to get" while
attending colleges in Ellensburg and Cheney in the early 1960s, she said. "I
don't remember it being this good."

      Gonzaga is one of six universities nationwide which sponsor a Campus
Kitchens project, where campus dining hall kitchens and leftover unserved
food are used to prepare nutritious meals for the elderly, homeless and poor
in nearby communities, said Hanna Israel, coordinator of the Gonzaga

      Founded as a pilot program at Saint Louis University in 2001, Campus
Kitchens is a spinoff of the successful Washington, D.C.-based DC Central

      Central Kitchen Founder and President Robert Egger came up with the
idea to use uneaten food and campus dining hall equipment during off hours
to feed the hungry, Abby Flottemesch, Campus Kitchens development director,

      "He saw a school that had a kitchen ... and a fabulous opportunity to
use space that is ready to go, but not used at all hours," Flottemesch said.
"We use kitchens on the off hours to benefit the community."

      At Gonzaga, Israel, 21, is joined by about 20 regular volunteers at
the school's Cataldo dining hall, where two nights a week, they assemble
meals that are delivered the next day to clients of five hunger relief

      Dorm food no longer is steam trays full of limp discolored vegetables
and mystery meat. Volunteers recently distributed unserved trays of poached
salmon, wild rice and fresh string beans to Hayes and other residents of the
O'Malley Apartments, a low-income residence near the Gonzaga campus.

      The weekly offerings are supplemented by donations from local
restaurants, grocery stores and food banks, Israel said.

      Hayes, who is diabetic and must watch her diet, said her meals have
been specially prepared with salads and low-sugar desserts.

      Campus Kitchens at Gonzaga currently serves about 130 meals a week.
Plans are for 200 a week by the end of October, Israel said.

      A recent University of Michigan graduate, Israel is coordinator of the
Gonzaga project, which began in August after the university, the Sodexho
Foundation and the national Campus Kitchens organizations signed agreements.

      "Spokane has a big issue with homelessness and unemployment," Israel
said. "There is a lot of need in this community."

      The Sodexho Foundation is the philanthropic arm of food and facilities
management giant Sodexho USA, which runs Gonzaga's food service operation.

      Sodexho kitchens and storage facilities are made available at each of
the Campus Kitchens sites.

      The campus program also helps train unemployed adults for jobs in the
food service industry.

      At Marquette University in Milwaukee, Kelly Collins, a senior from
Chicago majoring in social welfare and justice, volunteers six to eight
hours a week at the Campus Kitchens.

      "A lot of people that want to come here ... have these kind of
values," she said. "A lot feel `I should volunteer. I should give back to
the community.'"

      The project fits well with Gonzaga's Center for Community Action and
Service Learning, said director Sima Thorpe, who applied for a Campus
Kitchens grant at the urging of the university's food service provider,
Sodexho Corp.

      Many college students have a strong ethic of service to the community,
she said.

      "Students should have a value of service to others. That's why we have
committed so many resources to it," said Thorpe, whose 3-year-old department
has 16 staff members and 50 students working in service projects.

      Campus Kitchens offers an opportunity to give something back to the
community and to fulfill the school's requirements for serving the needy,
Thorpe said.

      Campus Kitchens have been established at three universities run by the
Jesuit order of Roman Catholic priests - Gonzaga, Saint Louis and Marquette.

      But there are also kitchen projects at Northwestern University in
Evanston, Ill., Augsburg College in Minnesota and Dillard University in New
Orleans, which was closed in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

      While the first six are wholly owned by Campus Kitchens, a
university-owned affiliate opened under a pilot program at Minnesota State
University, Mankato, on Oct. 3.

      Hayes appreciates the departure from routine that the Campus Kitchen
volunteers bring.

      "I've been real satisfied," she said. "The kids are just really,
really polite and nice. It's a break to see young faces in the building.
Just having happy, smiling, younger faces around twice a week is nice."

      ON THE NET

      Campus Kitchens Project: http://www.dccentralkitchen.org/ckp/

      Sodexho Foundation: http://www.helpstophunger.org