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Campus Kitchen Serves Up Turkeypalooza

Volunteers prepare more than 700 meals this holiday for local residents in need

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November 15, 2012 | by Judy Moore
Campus Kitchen

EVANSTON, Ill. --- Student volunteers with Campus Kitchen at Northwestern (CKNU) prepared, assembled and delivered 700-plus special Thanksgiving meal servings to the underserved during “TurkeyPalooza.” The majority of meals went to Evanston families, children and seniors.

CKNU’s home delivery clients receive meals prepared on the University’s Evanston campus by CKNU volunteers with the help of Sodexo, Northwestern’s food service provider.

“This year’s menu is comprised of turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes and gravy, cranberry sauce, a vegetable, a slice of bread and a pumpkin cookie,” said Katie Darin, Campus Kitchen coordinator, who admitted that cooking more than 700 Thanksgiving meal servings at once is an organizational challenge. “There is a lot of food to deal with and a lot of cooking to do, but it is something each Campus Kitchen works through. This goes on at other participating Campus Kitchens across the country.”

Campus Kitchen at Northwestern is part of a national 33-campus program that uses university and high school kitchens during off-hours to prepare meals. CKNU’s clients include area homeless shelters, the YMCA, YWCA, Salvation Army, homebound seniors and youth organizations.

In a typical month, Northwestern student volunteers prepare and deliver more than 2,000 free meals three times a week throughout the year. CKNU also prepares sandwiches year-round for recipients at Second Baptist Church in Evanston.

Twenty-one local families received a whole turkey as part of their Thanksgiving delivery. Fifty-five others in need, including disabled, homebound and low-income individuals, received bagged holiday meals. In addition, turkey sandwiches were prepared and delivered to Connections for the Homeless, an Evanston-based service organization, and to an after-school program in Chicago’s Albany Park neighborhood.

CKNU seeks additional volunteers in December to provide a Christmas-themed meal for clients.

“We are always looking for steady volunteers who are willing to make deliveries for us,” said Darin. She attributes TurkeyPalozza’s success to the dedicated Northwestern student leaders and volunteers who plan menus, work cooking shifts and organize meal delivery, as well as to generous Evanston and North Shore community members.