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Hoosier Students Try to End Food Waste

Students on high school and college campuses across the country are part of a project to end food waste and feed needy people in their communities. (The Campus Kitchens Project)
Students on high school and college campuses across the country are part of a project to end food waste and feed needy people in their communities. (The Campus Kitchens Project)
February 26, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS - On college campuses across the nation, including the joint Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis campus, student volunteers are working to put an end to food waste and at the same time are helping in their communities to feed the needy.

Some high schools also take part in The Campus Kitchens Project. Jennifer Bird, a program manager with the project, said it's a lot of work for the volunteers, many of whom had no previous experience.

"Some students come in never really having done cooking at home, and they kind of get to learn on the job," she said. "We just kind of say, 'Hey, here's a recipe, we'll check back on you,' or in some cases, 'Here's some raw materials, what can you do with them?' "

Bird said 40 percent of food is wasted in the United States every year and yet one in six people doesn't know where his or her next meal will come from.

Students learn to cook, Bird said, but they also learn about the people in their communities, many of whom are socially isolated.

"Some of our clients who seem the most gruff and grumpy when we deliver, they're the first ones to call if we're running late or miss a date because of the holidays," she said, "and then you think, 'You know what? It does matter to them.' "

Since its inception in 2001, The Campus Kitchens Project has received more than 5.2 million pounds of food from stores, restaurants and campus dining halls and has prepared and delivered almost 2.7 million meals.

More information about The Campus Kitchens Project is online at campuskitchens.org.

Veronica Carter, Public News Service - IN