Baylor's chapter of the national Campus Kitchen Project was recognized nationally by the organization as an example of best practices. Campus Kitchen volunteers work to improve health and fight hunger by diverting food waste from dining halls, growing food on campus and preparing meals for local agencies that feed the hungry.
The group also takes an innovative approach to addressing hunger and wellness in the community's older adult population, an increasingly vulnerable group in Waco and across our country. Campus Kitchen Project hopes Baylor's senior outreach program can be a model for schools nationally.
Campus Kitchen Project national director Laura Toscano said isolation among seniors due to mobility issues and loss of social connections is directly related to hunger and other health issues. Thanks to an AARP grant, Baylor’s Campus Kitchen organized a health fair that began a gardening class to educate seniors on nutrition and connect them with other health services.
"What's really new and exciting about this is that we're using food as a tool to provide other services," Toscano said.
Toscano said Baylor's program offers an example of how to address holistic health. Baylor environmental science major Devan Mayer, director of Baylor's Campus Kitchen, hopes to address the larger problem, as well.
"Giving them a cheeseburger isn't really addressing hunger," Mayer said.
Volunteers harvest sweet potatoes at community gardens near Baylor's campus. Most of the food grown at the garden provides meals for local agencies that feed Waco’s needy. The group also collects leftover food from dining halls and delivers it to the Salvation Army.
Sophomore Rebecca Peirce joins her sister and brother to deliver food, a task she saw witnessed when she visited Baylor as a prospective student.
"It's something I started to do not solely because they did it," Peirce said. "It's something I knew actually helped people, so that’s why I was interested."