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The Mass Media

The Mass Media

The Mass Media

Culinary Outreach

Students+working+to+prepare+meals+for+the+hungry.
Students working to prepare meals for the hungry.

 

 

The Campus Kitchens Project is a national organization that brings nourishing meals to local organizations that support community members in need of nutritious meals. D.C. Central Kitchen, its founding organization formed in 1989, has satellite kitchens in 31 schools around the country. Campus Kitchens at UMass Boston (CKUMB) formed in 2010.

Student volunteers gather excess food from their campus’s cafeterias, and spend hours in kitchens making quality meals for those in need. The UMass Boston kitchen delivers 40 meals every Thursday to the Walter Denney Youth Center Boys and Girls Club on Mt. Vernon Street. Aside from the networking and contacting of other agencies, the students run the program. They collect the food, come up with the recipes, cook, package, and deliver to the Boys and Girls Club.

Talk of the program coming to UMass Boston began in 2008 and it finally became part of the campus community service scene in the fall of 2010. “We had no kitchen until this fall, so we did weekly grocery bags with recipes for cooking the food,” Ben Whelan told us. This fall was the first time the students got in the kitchen: “It was awesome!” said Whelan, who has been with Campus Kitchens since the start and now runs the kitchen on Wednesdays (food prep day).

Lindsay Wallace, UMass Boston’s Kitchen Coordinator, believes the program been so successful in just a few years because of “the students!” Wallace said, “They are what make this happen.” Whelan and Wallace also gave credit to the cooperation and warm welcome Sodexo (the UMass food service) extended to them. “They’ve been great,” Wallace mentioned. UMass Boston’s Campus Kitchen also has two high school interns who have been with the community service program from the start. “It’s great because now they can train other students since they have been helping so long…helps me out a lot,” Whelan said of the interns.

CKUMB has an ambitious future ahead with its goals of serving 90 meals a week, increasing the number of organizations benefiting from the community service of cooking, and hopefully in the next few years becoming involved in Boston communities through means other than serving meals– “doing more than just dropping off food,” as Whelan put it. “We just purchased a garden area across from the Walter Denney Youth Center to begin growing our own food,” said Wallace. They’re hoping to teach the grade school children how to garden and grow their own fresh produce this spring and summer.

During the recent Martin Luther King, Jr. weekend, Whelan went to Washington D.C. to the headquarters of D.C. Central Kitchen, and, along with the high school interns, competed in a Chili Cook Off. A board had to pre-approve the recipe so the ingredients could be purchased ahead of time. Each group had to cook chili and dessert for 25 people. Most of the schools in the competition had a vocational culinary program on their campuses, but Whelan and his interns pulled out the victory. Awards were given for best chili and best dessert, and Whelan and his crew won best overall for both.

Whelan is inspired to keep volunteering at CKUMB because he enjoys helping and flexing his culinary muscle. “I don’t just want to give the kids food…I want to educate and expand their palettes to be healthy future consumers. Plus, every week we don’t have a choice of what [food] we end up with, so it’s like I’m an Iron Chef every week.”

To find out more about UMass Boston’s Campus Kitchen program you can check out their Facebook, Twitter, blog, or www.campuskitchens.com/schools/umb.