Creating sustainable solutions for hunger and food waste
Originally published: August 2017
The Campus Kitchens Project partners with students and schools across the U.S. to recover food that would otherwise have gone to waste and transform it into nutritious, balanced meals for the community. Because we know that we'll never end hunger with food alone, we also teach our student leaders to assess the root causes of hunger in every community. For instance, in rural areas, lack of access and transportation is a root cause of hunger. For older adults, isolation can be a root cause.
Rather than looking to food and hand-outs to end hunger and its underlying root causes, we believe the answer lies in cultivating strong leadership for large-scale systemic change. Our theory of change is this: if we give young people the ability to use the existing resources of their schools, they can create an effective national network of cooperative and adaptive anti-hunger programs. In the process, students develop as leaders for social change.
The philosophy is simple:
- Teach students about poverty
- Reach the least fortunate in the community and those with the greatest ability to change the problem
- Feed a changing and growing hunger need
- Ask young people to lead the effort with their own entrepreneurial solutions
To support nutrition education, Campus Kitchens offers two standardized curricula: one for kids and one for older adults. We share these resources in the hopes they'll be useful to others doing similar work.
The curriculum for youth is divided into two modules. The first, "Building Blocks for Healthy Kids," is designed for a classroom setting. The second, "Sowing Seeds for Healthy Kids," is intended for a school garden setting — to tie an understanding of nutrition to a sense of where food comes from and how it grows.
Our nutrition education curriculum for older adults is called "Healthy Living Made Easy." We designed this curriculum to respect what seniors already know and then add some relevant information in a discussion-based format. I think one of the most interesting challenges here is sharing information about how nutritional needs change as one gets older, and also how to overcome some logistical hurdles. For example, if you're only able to get to the grocery once every couple of weeks, how can you shift your cooking methods to adjust to that?
For more from Campus Kitchens, visit the Campus Kitchens Project.