Students at William Jewell College are thinking creatively to fight hunger in the greater Kansas City area.
On May 4, the campus kicked off the William Jewell College Food Rescue Program, a student-led service project to redistribute unserved food from the dining hall to those in need.
The project is a result of the Pryor Leadership Studies Program. Each year, graduating seniors choose a legacy project to serve the community. The projects are designed to be sustainable, even after the class graduates.
This year, the class engineered a program to repackage food that was prepared but not served, and deliver it to shelters through the community. “Our goal is to distribute 200 meals every week,” said Liz Powell, a member of the student project team.
“We believe it is a great way to be resourceful in a time of economic crisis, while bringing the campus and community together to help those in need.”
The Food Rescue Program is teaming up with Harvesters, Kansas City’s largest food bank, to distribute the food. According to a William Jewell press release, Harvesters’ network serves nearly 60,000 people every week, 43 percent of whom are children.
The idea came from a nation-wide program called Campus Kitchens (campuskitchens.org). Campus Kitchens currently works with 20 schools — on the high school and college level — across the country to repackage unserved food into nutritious meals for the hungry.
Robert Egger, founder and president of the DC Central Kitchen, the organization that started Campus Kitchens, visited William Jewell to speak and help kick off the Food Rescue Program. St. Louis University is the only other Missouri entity participating in the program.
“This will just become a part of the way we do things here, not just a one-time service project,” Powell said.
“With everyone taking green initiates in this time of ‘economic crisis,’ we thought being resourceful with what we have — excess food — is a practical thing to do.”
Anna Dickson will serve as student volunteer coordinator for the 2009-2010 school year. She’ll be responsible to arrange student and community volunteers to repackage and deliver the food, as well as solve any problems that arise.
“This really is a wonderful, long-term service project. It will allow us as a college to make better use of our resources and invest in Kansas City as we meet people’s needs,” Dickson said.
According to Chris Lakin, a student working on the Food Rescue Program, the senior class selected the project unanimously. “We knew that we wanted to help people cope with the recession, and we wanted to do it in Kansas City,” he said.
Lakin had the opportunity to travel with a Harvesters truck for a day, giving him a chance to see where food was picked up and delivered. “This trip encouraged me to continue working throughout the semester and make sure that this project came to William Jewell,” he said.
He appreciates that Harvesters helps so many children. “I became part of this project because, one, it’s a grade, but more importantly, the number of children that are poverty-stricken and hungry when they get home from school,” he said.
Jennifer Harris is the news writer for Word&Way.