At The Campus Kitchens Project, we empower student volunteers across the country to recover one million pounds of food each year that would otherwise have gone to waste, and transform this food into nutritious, balanced meals for food insecure Americans. Since our founding in 2001, we have led the national movement against food waste and hunger, and we’re just getting started. Our student leaders know that all too often the “bread baskets” of America, the rural communities that grow our nation’s food supply, are disproportionately affected by hunger. There are unique challenges in these communities, such as transportation, access and infrastructure, that present a significant challenge to traditional food distribution models. While traditional models simply build more new warehouses and stack them sky-high with shelf-stable products, we know there is a more sustainable solution. In each of these communities, there already exists a school campus, with state of the art commercial kitchen space sitting dark in the evenings and on weekends, excess food, and eager student volunteers. By re-envisioning these resources in a new way, we can help rural Americans do what they do best: put lean, grassroots solutions to work for their own communities. One of the most powerful testaments to our work is our partnership with CoBank. Their focus on rural hunger, like ours, relies not only on the provision of nutritious meals today, but also on the creation of new and innovative programs that address the underlying root causes of hunger, from isolation to access, to break this cycle for good. Over the past two years, together with CoBank we have issued grants to some of the nation’s leading universities to pilot long-term programmatic solutions that address the problem of hunger in rural areas. This toolkit highlights best practices for addressing rural hunger from leading universities across the country.
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