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Campus Kitchen Serves 8,000 Meals to Underserved Kids

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September 14, 2004 | by Judy Moore

The Campus Kitchen at Northwestern University -- a nonprofit organization dedicated to fighting hunger in the Evanston community -- provided more than 8,000 nutritious meals to underserved Evanston youths enrolled in several community summer programs.

The meals that were prepared and delivered to three Evanston agencies were part of the new Summer Food for Kids Program (SFFK) sponsored by the Campus Kitchen program.

Operating out of the Evanston campus dining halls, Summer Food for Kids Program volunteers cooked and delivered weekday lunches for 100 children in the Family Focus summer program and 70 youngsters in the You, Inc. program. Meals were made and delivered to 70 youngsters at the Salvation Army during an 11-week period when federally subsidized meal programs were not in operation.

While the mealtime menus varied daily, typical summertime lunch fare consisted of Sodexho’s Good-to-Go pre-made Buffalo chicken, chicken Caesar, turkey, low-fat macaroni and cheese, organic peanut butter and jelly, baked chicken and Swiss cheese, ham and cheese or Italian salami sandwiches or pasta salads served with fresh fruit, healthy chips and fruit juice.

Campus Kitchen had help from more than 150 volunteers -- Northwestern students, Evanston Township, Niles West and New Trier high school students and Evanston residents.

Cooking shifts were scheduled for Sunday, Monday and Wednesday evenings and meals were delivered on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday afternoons.

In addition, 10 Northwestern students and community volunteers tutored the students and conducted a new healthy cooking course that was launched this summer for teen-age students taking part in the Evanston community summer programs. Sodexho Executive Chef John Kricki and Nutritionist Rebecca Berman provided culinary expertise and nutritional information for the classes.

“The six-class cooking series taught basic nutrition, healthy eating alternatives and culinary skills to the high school students in the summer program,” said Scott Parrish, supervisor of the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern.

“The students worked in the industrial kitchen at Sargeant Hall on Northwestern’s Evanston campus. At the end of the course, we held a graduation ceremony where the class participants cooked a meal for their families,” Parrish said. The graduation meal included broiled buffalo chicken breasts, baked mosticioli, mixed greens salad and garlic bread.

In addition to the high school cooking course, Campus Kitchen volunteers conducted a nutrition education program for Evanston elementary and junior high school children at each of the various facilities they served this summer. Once a week, following mealtime, volunteers presented a nutrition education class that focused on healthy eating, nutrition facts and nutrition education.

The summer program concluded with a special outdoor celebration, NU day, where children in the summer programs were treated to a barbeque on the east lawn of Norris University Center.

“Since most of the youngsters who participated in the program had never visited the campus, we gave them a tour of the Evanston campus,” Parrish said.

The children also heard Northwestern students discuss their majors and how to get into college. A journalism student had the; children analyze newspapers and a physics major explained how theories work in every day life. At the end of the event, the children received school supplies from the Northwestern bookstore in Norris Center.

Sodhexo, the company that operates Northwestern’s campus dining program and donates food to the Campus Kitchen at Northwestern, which coordinates food deliveries to local agencies, including low-income senior organizations and youth groups.

During the school year at Northwestern, Campus Kitchen student volunteers prepare an average of 2,000 meals per month in Allison Hall. Volunteers deliver meals to agencies and individual families where they provide nourishment and companionship to the community while gaining valuable service learning experience.

Northwestern’s Campus Kitchen is a program of The Campus Kitchens Project, a national hunger initiative that currently operates at five universities located in Missouri, Louisiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Minnesota.

To volunteer for the Campus Kitchen program at Northwestern, phone Scott Parrish at (847) 491-6925 or contact him by e-mail at sparrish@campuskitchens.org

Topics: University