Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Augustana Observer

Campus Kitchen serves first hot meal

Juniors Ninna Therese Mendoza and Mary Thomas were glowing on Tuesday night as students lined up in the Brew by the Slough to take advantage of Campus Kitchen’s first hot meal of the year on Nov. 22. The eight leadership members put in months of work in preparation for their debut night.
“243 out of about 2500 students is about 10% of students that could be considered food insecure, but there is really no way for us to know how many people actually are” Thomas said.
Of the students at Augustana that are currently eligible for the Pell Grant, a grant based on financial need, 243 are not on a meal plan. The goal is to get students to accept the free meals, and their sharing goal by using the hashtag #starvethestigma.
“We really hope that students will utilize these hot meals because there is really no reason anyone going to this institution should be going hungry” Mendoza said.
Campus Kitchen plans on hosting hot meals once per month during the school year. Their hot meals include a four week plan. In the first two weeks the Gerber Center freezes unused trays of food to save for the meals. In the third week, the meals are put in the fridge to defrost and a menu is planned for the meal during the fourth week.
“I think it is a really a good idea. I personally know juniors who are still struggling to make all their meals. I think it is both helpful for the time and financial aspect” said Sabrina Hill, a junior in attendance.
Sophomore leadership team member, Laruen Clapp admitted how the entire process was stressful, but the outcomes made it all worthwhile.
Campus Kitchen has also been in contact with Hy-Vee, the Riverbend Foodbank, and Augie Acres. Hy-Vee tends to waste a lot of produce that goes past its expiration date. The Campus Kitchen team hopes to get ahold of produce in order to help provide nutritional meals. The team hopes to partner with Riverbend Foodbank in the future as well.
In addition to hot meals, the Campus Kitchen team hopes to hold educational sessions. According to Mendoza and Thomas, they have been in contact with Augie Acres and other organizations about providing educational sessions to help students learn about food waste, nutrition, and growing their own food.
Mendoza and Thomas became interested in food waste one day when they watched fresh fruit get put directly on the conveyer belt in the Gerber dining center. Research led them to find out that Rock Island County is a food dessert.  However, the Gerber Diner Center already works with the community and they did not want to step on their toes. Mendoza and Thomas decided to focus on a smaller area, the Augustana Campus itself.
Mendoza and Thomas hope to kick-start a Campus Cupboard to help food insecure students. Their goal for this will be to get toiletries and food donated to help students who are struggling to provide for themselves.
“It is so rewarding to see the outcome of all our work” Thomas said.

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Campus Kitchen serves first hot meal