When Campus Kitchen at Northwestern sent out invitations asking for volunteers for its “Feeding the Future” summer program, Evanston resident Daniel Linzer showed it to his 8-year-old daughter, Nora. She jumped at the chance to help.
“She loved helping bag lunches,” said Linzer, dean of the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. “She was disappointed when we had to leave at her bedtime. So we volunteered a second time.”
Nora is one of about 30 volunteers from the Evanston community who help with Campus Kitchen, a nonprofit organization on Northwestern’s Evanston campus dedicated to fighting hunger and building communities. Founded by Sodexho and now in 14 cities nationwide, Campus Kitchen works with area schools, organizations and businesses to provide meals and chef training, usually during the academic year.
Campus Kitchen completed its second annual summer program in August, serving more than 21,000 bagged lunches to 10 local agencies, including the Salvation Army of Evanston, Connections for the Homeless, Family Focus and Youth Outreach Umbrella. The summer program also helps some of its regular clients, including individuals and families in Evanston, as well as those at the YWCA.
At the start of the program, a coordinator led the process, but now the program is run almost completely by Northwestern students. From making the meals to delivering them, many parts of the process are managed by student volunteers.
Jon Sutton, a graduate student in psychology, began volunteering with Campus Kitchen in July 2004 and is now a Monday night regular. For him, it’s the convenient evening hours that attracted him to the program.
“I’m a grad student. I have no money, but I do have time,” Sutton said. “I can get there on my way home and have that extra part of the week to give back.”
During the summer, when most college students are elsewhere, some area high school students help out. Evanston Township High School sophomores No’am Keesom and Emi Morita have volunteered with Campus Kitchen for about a year.
Nikki Goldwater, a senior in the School of Education and Social Policy, has been involved with Campus Kitchen since the beginning of her freshman year. Now she is an intern with the program, working with fellow students to manage the daily needs of the program. She said Campus Kitchen has allowed her to feel a part of the Evanston community as opposed to merely a four-year visitor.
“I can name you 10 clients who have lived here their whole lives and who have each told me 10 stories about Evanston’s rich history,” Goldwater said.