St. Louis University, MO Campus Kitchens Program

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Type: Program

Status: Established in 2001

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SLU Campus Kitchen Pilot Program for National Hunger Initiative

The Saint Louis University Campus Kitchen, where SLU students and volunteers cook and deliver meals to St. Louis neighbors in need, kicked off this week with support from University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., St. Louis Mayor Francis Slay, and a host others.

The program is a unique cooperative between the University's Center for Leadership and Community Service, Sodexho dining services, The Campus Kitchens Project, and local non-profit service organizations working together to eliminate hunger in St. Louis. Saint Louis University was chosen as the national pilot for the program, which is also designed to develop students into community leaders and provide job training for others in the community.

The project is fueled by the energy of approximately 100 Saint Louis University student volunteers and more than 500 pounds of unused food a week from Sodexho's operations here. Sodexho and University employees work alongside students to cook the food in the kitchen of De Mattias Hall on campus and plan to distribute over 500 meals a month to the St. Louis hungry, with the assistance of established service agencies across the area.

"The Sodexho Foundation's support represents not only a bold step in the national fight against hunger, but a commitment to cooperation, between businesses, non-profit organizations, and volunteers," said Saint Louis University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J. "Saint Louis University was chosen for this national pilot project because of our strong Jesuit mission; and I am proud that SLU students have responded so enthusiastically to this additional opportunity to serve the community."

"This is a perfect example of people in the community working together - volunteering their time - to help others; to help make our city a better place in which to live for all of us," said St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay in a written statement. "I'm especially proud that young people are involved in this worthwhile effort to provide food to our less-fortunate neighbors. It means they care."

"The program will focus on serving families and seniors, including those on Meals on Wheels waiting lists; children in after-school tutoring programs; and families living with HIV," said Bernie Schaefer, director of SLU's Center for Leadership and Community Service. Current St. Louis partner agencies include the Salvation Army Family Haven, the Blumeyer Community Center, Ronald McDonald House, and Council Towers senior apartments.

Other Sodexho food providers, local restaurants and the St. Louis Food Bank will help keep the kitchen stocked, so that food in the community is used resourcefully and not wasted.

The SLU Campus Kitchen is funded through a grant from the Sodexho Foundation, established by Sodexho, the wholly owned North American subsidiary of Sodexho Alliance and a leading provider of food and facilities management in the U.S. and Canada.

The grant of $61,500 - Sodexho Foundation's largest grant to date - was awarded to The Campus Kitchens Project, which will pilot five on-campus community kitchens at universities across the country where Sodexho is the foodservice provider. They will all recycle food and use student and employee volunteer efforts to provide meals to hundreds in the community each day. The projects will begin working with local job training programs to provide a hands-on "internship" to those who will seek work in the foodservice industry.

The Saint Louis University Campus Kitchen's Opening Day brought together SLU students, faculty and staff, Sodexho staff, service agencies, and members of the community, in a daylong service initiative. Volunteers were trained in proper food safety and sanitation, worked in the kitchen, delivered meals, developed menus, and learned about the organization. More than fifty student volunteers provided meals to hundreds in the community, including homeless families at the Salvation Army Family Haven, and fifty low-income senior families at Council Towers.

Bill McGeorge, Sodexho General Manager at Saint Louis University has been pleased at the response from the Saint Louis University community and Sodexho employees. "University Dining Services is thrilled to have the opportunity to work with this enthusiastic group of students and volunteers. This is a way for our employees to provide meaningful community service doing what they do best. We will support it in every way we can, from providing unused food from our operations, to providing training for volunteers. We are behind this project 100 percent."

The SLU Campus Kitchen is the pilot program for The Campus Kitchens Project, an outreach program of Kitchens In National Cooperation, a national network of community-based kitchens that recycle food, deliver meals, and provide job training.

"The opening of this, the first Campus Kitchen, represents one of the most innovative community-based programs in the country," said Robert Egger, Executive Director of Kitchens In National Cooperation. "The Campus Kitchens allow students, faculty and the community, to strengthen bodies, empower minds and build communities," Egger added.

Saint Louis University is a leading Catholic, Jesuit research institution ranked among the top fifty national, doctoral universities as a best value by U.S. News & World Report. Founded in 1818, the University strives to foster the intellectual and spiritual growth of its 11,000 students through a broad array of undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs on campuses in St. Louis and Madrid, Spain.