AU Organization Repackages Unused Food for Local Hungry

Featured article in the Opelika-Auburn News written by Kristen Oliver on 2/21/13.

Auburn University students are making use of the leftover foods at the dining halls on campus to feed the local hungry.

Known as the Campus Kitchens Project at Auburn University, the organization takes the food that was prepared in the campus dining facilities and not used at the end of each day and repackages it into meals to be distributed locally.

“Campus Kitchens is actually a part of a national, non-profit organization,” said Jennifer Commander, program assistant from the Office of Public Service and Outreach. “Auburn is one of only 38 or so schools in the country to have this program.”

The organization first began to take effect four years ago as a result of a university class study.

“Auburn offers a minor in Hunger studies that students can get,“ Commander said. "Four years ago, the senior capstone class’s task was to do a feasibility study of whether or not Auburn could have a chapter of Campus Kitchens. Out of that study they found that Auburn could.”

One of the class's students and founders of the project, Emily Scammell, said that their professor emphasized doing more than research to combat hunger.

“He was intense on, not only us researching hunger in the world...but he wanted us to be able to initiate this hands-on project to give students something to do about hunger in their community,” Scammell said. “Believe it or not, Lee County has a huge population below the poverty line, and he knew we could make a huge impact.”

Scammell said she is proud of the growth they have experienced over the last several years. She said they now feed anywhere from 150-250 people a week.

The food is transported and served to people at the Auburn United Methodist Church food pantry, East Alabama Services for the Elderly house, Porter Housing Development and His Place, a local shelter.

“We also take food to the Auburn University Food Pantry,” Commander said. “That’s relatively new, and Campus Kitchens was involved in getting the food pantry on campus. It was kind of an effort of various hunger-fighting organizations.”

Scammell said they serve pre-made meals every Friday at the AU Food Pantry for students and faculty.

“At first, they just thought of it as a sort of small grocery store I guess … but we really wanted to do everything we could,” Scammell said. “There’s a huge population of international grad students who don’t apply for aid but really need food and help.”

Commander said 10 Auburn students work for the organization in a leadership capacity, and 40-50 volunteers help regularly.

“Right before Christmas we did a pickup that yielded over 200 pounds of food...” Commander said. “The next big one will be when the students leave for spring break. We are sure to do extra pickups with more volunteers around those times.”

Last Updated: November 11, 2013