UNK Today | August 2014 - page 39

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Fulfilling a Need
Campus Kitchen volunteers deliver meals to more than 80 families each week
UNK
Today
:
After Hours
By CASSIE KERNICK
Hub Intern
KEARNEY — Since its
inception in 2006, Campus
Kitchen at the University
of Nebraska at Kearney has
provided community members
with nearly 16,500 meals.
The student-run organization
does much
more than
provide a
weekly meal,
Jon Watts, the
group’s advis-
er, said.
“We have a
lot of elderly
clients who
really like to
see the stu-
dents once a
week,” Watts said. “For a lot of
them, we’re addressing a social
need.”
The organization, which
is the first and only Campus
Kitchen chapter in Nebraska,
delivers weekly to 80-110 fam-
ilies. There are no requirements
to be on the list. Watts said they
try to help anyone that says he
or she has a need.
Many clients are elderly,
but there are many families in
town that also benefit from this
service.
The group is predominantly
student-operated. Except for
Watts’ advice on subjects such
as finances, a group of six to
eight students take full control
of the weekly deliveries.
These students are the
group’s leadership team. The
roles of leadership team mem-
bers include picking up donated
food, attending the cooking
sessions and driving the food to
clients.
This year, Robert Kirkland,
a senior biology student, leads
that team. Kirkland said he
began going to the club with
a friend and has been coming
back since.
“This position was just
kind of handed down to me.
I felt like I wanted to keep
the organization going. A lot
of volunteers graduated and
moved, so we need to find
more people to join this year,”
Kirkland said
While his main responsibil-
ities now include paperwork
and recruiting volunteers,
deliveries used to be his favor-
ite part of Campus Kitchen.
Kirkland said going to the
houses and seeing how grate-
ful and happy people are to
talk with someone for just a bit
is what made him fall in love
with the organization.
Aside from the group’s core
team, participants vary each
week depending upon if a
fraternity, sorority or another
organization volunteers to
come cook
that week’s
meals.
The group
operates on
a minimal
budget. Watts
said he esti-
mates it takes
about $3,000
annually
to keep the
group func-
tioning. That figure is so little
because of the vast amount of
donations the group receives
from the community.
“We’re kind of like a food
recycler,” Watts said. “In our
efforts to try and eliminate
waste, we usually work with
Kearney Public Schools, Good
Samaritan Hospital and some
of the churches in town.”
The leadership teams goes
to these locations and picks up
any leftovers the day before
it meets to prepare the meals.
Watts said, for example, if a
school has prepared too many
chicken nuggets for that day,
it will freeze them for the
group. Then, from whatever is
donated, the group will build
a meal.
Although the protein is near-
ly always donated, the group
often has to purchase fruits and,
at times, vegetables to ensure
it’s providing the families with
a balanced meal.
The group largely recruits
volunteers by having a booth at
Blue and Gold Welcome and at
organizational fairs throughout
the year. While the group typi-
cally has enough volunteers, it
is not a club that most students
return to weekly.
“Some people will come in
only once or twice during a
semester; it’s a different orga-
nization in that aspect,” Watts
said.
Students are welcome to
come every week or just come
once to see what it is all about,
Watts said, any volunteers are
greatly appreciated.
email to:
WANT TO VOLUNTEER?
To volunteer with Campus Kitchen or to arrange for delivery of meals,
contact Jon Watts at 865-8431.
FROM LEFT,
Chase Svoboda,
Katilyn Mimick,
Anthony Donovan,
Lindsey Fujan and
Kendal Glidden
prepare ham and
green bean cas-
serole for Campus
Kitchen meals
to be delivered
in April during
the University of
Nebraska at Kear-
ney’s annual Big
Event. The meals
served 103 people
in Kearney. The
day of community
involvement is
meant to cultivate
a strong relation-
ship between
students and the
community.
Rachel Ostrom, Hub file
Courtesy
FROM LEFT,
UNK students Whitney Nelson and Kelsie Musil
deliver a Thanksgiving meal as part of last year’s TurkeyPalooza,
sponsored by UNK Campus Kitchen. Volunteers delivered nearly
100 meals to Kearney residents as part of TurkeyPalooza.
“We have a
lot of elderly
clients who really like to
see the students once a
week. For a lot of them,
we’re addressing a social
need.”
Jon Watts
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