On the night of Martin Luther King Jr. Day, Spoon staffers joined two leaders of Northwestern's Campus Kitchen at the Allison Dining Hall to prepare 130 meals for the Evanston community.
Campus Kitchen Northwestern (CKNU) is one of 33 members of the national Campus Kitchens Project, which aims to fight hunger by recovering food from cafeterias to assemble into filling and nutritious meals for families in need. For Northwestern in particular, many of the food donations come from nuCuisine and Pret a Manger, which donates every sandwich and salad left over after every day to different charities.
“It’s such an easy, convenient and logical way to give back to the Evanston community,” said Weinberg senior Melissa Davidson, the leader of the Monday meal shift. “Taking two hours to put together 130 meals from what would otherwise go to waste is two hours of my day well spent.”
Of the meals assembled, 47 of them consisted of an nuCuisine sandwich, tofu curry with peas, rice and a cookie for Campus Kitchen’s regular clients. CKNU volunteers deliver these meals to five different locations around Evanston: Sherman, Noyes, North, South and Shore Line.
Most of these meal containers are individually labeled for those registered to receive them, and CKNU even prepares special meals for clients with dietary restrictions. Thus, some meals contain no starches, some don’t have sugar and some don’t have greens. “But I’ve been told that some people are just a little picky,” said shift captain and Weinberg junior Yuliya Bandurovych of the latter.
Volunteers also assembled 35 bagged lunches with Pret sandwiches, cheese and granola bars for Connections for the Homeless, as well as 50 congregate meals made from leftover dining hall food for the Salvation Army and YWCA.
Northwestern students work together to facilitate and prepare such meals three times per week (Mondays, Wednesdays and Sundays) and take responsibility for every step, from food pickup to meal prep to delivery. That means there are nine shifts per week and plenty of opportunities to pitch in.
“I just love organizing all the food,” said Bandurovych. “We start with boxes of donated food, and it’s awesome to see the back room all empty by the end of the shift and how the plates of food end up all pretty, knowing it’s actually going to people who will enjoy it.”