Campus Kitchen back in action amid recent move

Laine Kaehler and Chris Kim repack salads in preparation for the next delivery shift.
Laine Kaehler and Chris Kim repack salads in preparation for the next delivery shift.

By Selah Holland
Medill Reports

Campus Kitchen, a Northwestern University student organization that redistributes unused food to nonprofit organizations and food insecure individuals in Evanston, recently moved into the Great Room kitchen in Great Hallon campus  a few weeks ago.

This relocation, into a 1920s dining hall that later morphed into a café and catering space, keeps volunteers busy revamping the space to match the scale lost with the move from Allison Dining Hall.
Campus Kitchen president Laine Kaehler said the group is gradually working to rebuild its food stock and work volume. Over the summer, the group operated for only two months before coming to a temporary halt early in September when the university chose to relocate them to Great Hall.

Three days a week, volunteers make stops to several campus buildings to collect unused food that would otherwise go to waste and prepare it for redistribution. Another two days out of the week are dedicated to deliveries. Recipients include individual Evanston residents in four different apartment buildings, as well as the YWCA, Connections for the Homeless, and Second Baptist Church, among others.

Volunteer Chris Kim said he feels he is doing impactful work. The 19-year-old sophomore is urging his fraternity brothers at Delta Chi to start volunteering as well.

“For just about two hours a week, you get to help out about two dozen people with meals and it’s just a good feeling. You’re helping to solve two issues––food waste and food insecurity,” he said.

This summer, the group’s parent organization, D.C. Central Kitchen, discontinued its national Campus Kitchen Project, leaving the Northwestern chapter to manage itself. Under the national organization’s guidance, the Northwestern chapter had a staff liaison and assistance with overall management. Even without these resources, the group is holding up just fine, Kaehler said.

With the national project disbanding, DC Central Kitchen urged its underlying chapters to join the Food Recovery Network, a fellow national organization dedicated to reducing food waste. For now, Kaehler said, the Northwestern chapter has no intentions of joining.

“We’re long lasting. We have support from the university. We can do this on our own and continue doing what we’ve been doing.”

Photo at top: Laine Kaehler and Chris Kim repack salads in preparation for the next delivery shift. (Selah Holland/MEDILL)