Seven hairnet clad students bustled around The Crossing’s small kitchen preparing for the official opening of the Campus Kitchen at UW-Madison Thursday, making dishes that featured ingredients picked up the previous day from Rheta’s Market Place that would have otherwise been thrown out.
The Campus Kitchen at UW-Madison will be the 45th kitchen in the national Campus Kitchen Project’s network. The non-profit organization is currently in 26 states, and no two kitchens are the same.
“Each campus kitchen has a little bit of a different spin to it. It can be whatever the community needs, or whatever the students want to make it,” said Katherine Kokkinias, a member of CKUWM’s executive board.
The goal of every kitchen is not to waste food and to make a positive difference in its respective community.
“We take food in our community that would have otherwise been thrown away and we get it to people who can really use it,” said Amanda Parrell Kaczmarek, the Campus Kitchen coordinator at Marquette University.
CKUWM will focus primarily on providing food for UW-Madison students in need. The food prepared at the opening was served at the Financial Aid and Security meeting, otherwise known as FASTrack, program meeting. Kokkinias said they plan to continue to cater FASTrack events for the remainder of the year.
“There is a big demographic of students who kind of slip through the cracks and end up going hungry. They can get scholarships to come here, but they might not get food paid for,” Kokkinias said.
Kokkinias said she was inspired to make a change after noticing how much food was wasted on campus.
“I could get over it and stop complaining, or I could find a way to change it because it isn’t right. I decided the latter, and here we are today,” Kokkinias said.
She met co-leader Colin Mcreavy at a National Campus Kitchen conference where they learned about different programs and food recovery networks. From there, they began to work on bringing Campus Kitchen to UW-Madison.
“My favorite thing has been working with other students [who are] really excited about making a positive change,” said Victoria Bouras, a CKUWM executive board member. “The compassion people have for their peers is really cool.”