In our current situation, food resources can be a necessity now more than ever. No one may know what may be going on in an individual’s life, but we can definitely work to provide as many resources as possible in case someone is in need. There are multiple resources on Auburn’s campus that address hunger-related topics, and The Campus Kitchen is a large player in overall hunger awareness. The Campus Kitchen at Auburn University (CKAU) is a student-led organization that functions to both mitigate food waste on campus as well as work in the larger fight against hunger in the surrounding Auburn-Opelika community. In collaboration with Campus Dining, volunteers are able to collect unserved foods from some of the dining halls and restaurants located on campus for packaging into individual nutritious meals. The Campus Kitchen partners with community organizations such as Esperanza House, Macon County Food Pantry, the Alabama Council for Human Resources, as well as Auburn Family Meals (to name a few) to distribute these meals to individuals in the surrounding community facing food insecurity. CKAU is currently functioning in Toomer Hall, located in the Hill, but will be moving to a more central location to enhance accessibility for our partners.
Though we are able to reduce the amount of food waste on campus, we would not be able to function fully without the amazing partnerships that we have with Auburn community members. Partnering with these organizations allows us to make a connection within the Auburn community by seeing first-hand how a few hours of service impact others. One particular partner that we are blessed to work with is Backpack International (BI). Starting in 2016, BI is focused on bringing about a spiritual connection through service. One of the main functions of the organization is to create backpacks full of school supplies and items for dissemination to children in Guyana during an annual “Christmas In July” Vacation Bible School Project. Not only does Oslyn Rodriguez, Backpack International’s founder and executive director, work tirelessly to ensure BI is able to provide children in Guyana with school materials, she also works to provide meals to her local community members.
Oslyn states, “Our involvement with The Campus Kitchen at Auburn University has had a positive impact on our organization. Our partnership has enabled us to expand our services beyond providing backpacks and supplies to children in need. Our involvement with Campus Kitchen helps us fulfill a need for the entire family, not just the children who receive the backpacks. Most often, children whose parents/caregivers are struggling to provide school supplies, hygiene products, and other essentials are also battling food insecurity. This partnership also helps us provide meals for our often forgotten elderly population, many of whom are shut-in. And finally, our relationship with Campus Kitchen enables us to provide volunteer opportunities for retirees and volunteers who are looking for ways to serve in their local community. I am so thankful for Campus Kitchen of Auburn University.” We are beyond grateful to be able to work alongside partners, like Backpack International, who care so deeply about their fellow community members.
Despite the unprecedented times we are currently living in, we are still functioning to reduce food waste and serve as a delivery partner to the Auburn-Opelika area. Our volunteer operations look a little different from the past, but we are running nonetheless. We are currently operating shifts with a reduced number of volunteers, having a maximum of 2 people for pickup, delivery, and cleaning shifts as well as a maximum of 6 individuals present for packaging shifts. We feel that these reduced numbers can help to maintain social distancing measures. If you are familiar with our packaging space, we will spread out packaging operations across two tables and into the main room to maintain social distancing measures. Along with this, we will be requiring masks throughout the entirety of all shifts, as well as a clearance for volunteers through GuideSafe’s HealthCheck passport. We do ask that each individual take point on their health and wellness, so we are able to remain cautious of the health of all involved. We hope that through these safety measures, you will still be able to get some hands-on volunteer time with CKAU. If that’s not at your comfort level, we are also working on developing a virtual option for completing volunteer hours. Please don’t hesitate to send an email over to firstname.lastname@example.org for any additional questions!
All said, we would absolutely love to meet some new volunteers ready to get hands-on service working towards a food secure community. If you are interested, we do send updated information about CKAU and shifts available for volunteering each week through AUInvolve. We look forward to seeing you and as always, Fork Hunger! Be on the lookout for another piece detailing a community partner we are lucky to work with shortly!
Post contributed by Alayna Priebe, Project Coordinator with Tiger Dining, V.P. of Communications with The Campus Kitchen at Auburn University.