Campus Kitchen Project looking to revitalize, reduce food waste
By Andrew Kluess, Contributing Writer
A University of Florida student organization is trying to put a dent in the American food waste epidemic.
The Gainesville chapter of the Campus Kitchen Project is an organization looking to help solve the hunger issue locally. They take food that would be wasted and create nutritious meals for the people of Gainesville and UF students.
Carson Bell, a sophomore sustainability studies major and current president, said she is looking to revitalize the program after taking over as president in the spring.
“From a couple years back the students that had started (The Campus Kitchen Project) had graduated,” Carson said. “Since then I have been working tirelessly to get it where it used to be.”
“We have a new operations team this year, and we are very close to starting operations again,” Carson said.
The Campus Kitchen Project is looking to partner with an afterschool program soon called Kids in the Woods, a group that takes kids out to the woods each week, and do monthly nutrition lessons with them, Carson said.
It isn’t enough to simply give people healthy food, Carson said. People need to be educated on how to take care of their own nutrition needs.
A buffet style Thanksgiving event is planned for this year as well. There will also be a fundraising event at Jason’s deli and a bake sale, Carson said.
“Whatever food that gets donated has to be a (part of) nutritious meals,” Carson said. “We go out and fill in whatever we don’t get.”
“I think it is pretty common in the U.S. to just throw away food,” said Karla Avila, a sophomore public relations major at the University of Florida. She sees students throw away food all the time.
Americans throw away $165 billion worth of food a year, which translates to 20 pounds per person every month, according to the Natural Resources Defense Council.
And, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture the volume of wasted food that is thrown out every year could fill up 730 football stadiums.
Xue Zhang, a senior economics and sustainability major and the current vice president of the Campus Kitchen Project, said in a phone interview that the organization is looking to give students the opportunity to give back to campus.
“Wasted food is such a big issue,” Zhang said. “A third to half of American food is wasted.”
Not very many events have happened this year and the project is in a bit of a slump, Zhang said. Last year there was a canned food drive and a Thanksgiving event.
People can go to the national Campus Kitchen Project and donate food to their local chapter through the “Turkeypalooza,” Carson said.
Zhang encourages people to watch John Oliver’s segment on food waste, which can be found on YouTube.
“(We’re) always looking for volunteers (and) good people to help us out,” Zhang said.
Carson said she is incredibly excited for all of the upcoming events.
“Look out for us, because we are coming!”