Campus Kitchen at Kent State Awarded AARP Foundation Grant to Fight Senior HungerPosted Jun. 16, 2014
Campus Kitchen at Kent State University is one of 10 Campus Kitchens nationwide to receive funding from the AARP Foundation to fight hunger and isolation among seniors. The grant, a three-year, $625,000 AARP Foundation investment in the Campus Kitchens Project, supports the development of innovative and sustainable solutions to increase food security for older Americans.
Recognizing the rising senior population that includes almost 9 million seniors at risk of hunger, the Campus Kitchens Project and AARP partnered on a senior hunger outreach program to address the issue through many of its student-run kitchens on university and high school campuses across the country. The grant will enable Campus Kitchen at Kent State to increase its meal production to serve more seniors in the community.
“The grant from the Campus Kitchen Project and AARP will enable us to grow our outreach to seniors in Portage County and beyond,” says Ann Gosky, senior special assistant with Kent State’s Office of Experiential Education and Civic Engagement, and coordinator of Campus Kitchen at Kent State. “Increasing numbers of seniors in our area find themselves food insecure and or hungry. Through the Campus Kitchen at Kent State, we will increase the number of meals we serve to these senior clients, as well as increase our nutrition education programming for these special clients. Assisting individuals through nutrition education is just as important as providing meals. The Campus Kitchen at Kent State has partnered with the university’s nutrition and dietetics program and hospitality management program to provide student leadership in these areas.”
Gosky says that The Upper Room, a church in Ravenna that provides hot meals to seniors every Thursday, joined the growing list of Campus Kitchen at Kent State’s community partners. Other community agencies that partner with Campus Kitchen at Kent State include Kent Social Services, Center of Hope, Springtime of Hope and Haymaker Farmers’ Market.
Campus Kitchen at Kent State, the first in the state of Ohio, was established in 2011 to recover food from cafeterias and through community donations and deliver meals to community feeding programs. Since inception, the student-run Campus Kitchen at Kent State has engaged more than 6,000 volunteers and served more than 36,000 meals to community members.
“The issue of hunger in the older adult population is simply growing too fast for the traditional charity approach to keep up,” says Laura Toscano, director of the Campus Kitchens Project. “But in every community there is a school, and in every school there is leftover food going to waste and a dining hall that sits dark in the evenings. By engaging student volunteers to mobilize these existing assets in our communities and to go beyond the meal to address the underlying root causes of hunger through innovative programs, the Campus Kitchens Project is providing a sustainable solution to the problem of senior hunger.”
As part of the grant, the Campus Kitchens Project will work with student volunteers to evaluate the most effective senior-focused programs and issue a book of best practice programs for addressing the intersection between older adult hunger and isolation.
“Far too many older Americans are struggling each day to put food on the table, which is one reason we teamed up again with Campus Kitchens to bolster existing efforts to feed the hungry and foster the development of innovative mid- and long-term solutions,” says Lisa Marsh Ryerson, president of the AARP Foundation. “Even more, engaging youth in such an important charge as senior hunger helps to create intergenerational connections while cultivating future leaders on this crucial issue.”
Campus Kitchen at Kent State has won several awards and recognitions, including recognition on the President’s Higher Education Community Service Honor Roll, the highest honor a college or university can receive for its commitment to volunteering, service-learning and civic engagement.
For more information about Campus Kitchen at Kent State, visit www2.kent.edu/oeece/volunteeropportunities/campuskitchen/index.cfm.
For more information about the Campus Kitchens Project, visit www.campuskitchens.org.
For more information about the AARP Foundation, visit www.aarpfoundation.org.