Elon University is working with Campus Kitchens across the country to “Raise the Dough,” a weeklong national competition to raise money for educational efforts and food contributions.
Elon’s chapter’s goal is to raise $1,800 by Feb. 27 to implement solutions for food insecurity in Alamance County. Forty-two other Campus Kitchens in the nation are participating in the competition.
The top three Campus Kitchen chapters that raise the most funds will win a cash prize that will help to continue impacting their community.
Feeding America estimates 1-in-5 people in North Carolina struggle with hunger.
Abbey Riesett, program coordinator for Elon’s Campus Kitchen, said the organization decided to enter the competition primarily so it could expand education efforts regarding nutrition to residents of Alamance County.
Campus Kitchen is accomplishing those educational objectives by providing weekly nutritional handouts to the John Robert Kernodle Senior Center and the Graham recreation Center. This is done through the nutritional services program provided to senior citizens of Alamance County through the Alamance County Community Services Agency.
“Our goal is to be able to bring fresh produce to the seniors when we make our presentations so they have food to take home with them,” Riesett said. “We are also beginning to develop nutritional handouts and presentations for Allied Churches of Alamance County.”
The organization has encountered challenges regarding the competition, mostly because not everyone at Elon is familiar with it yet.
“A lot of people on Elon’s campus have never heard of Campus Kitchen or do not realize how big of an impact we have in Alamance County,” Riesett said.
Even so, Elon’s Campus Kitchen is deeply involved in the community. The organization, composed of 15 student leaders and approximately 180 volunteers, makes and delivers 1,000 meals to residents of Alamance County each month.
During the 2013-2014 academic year, the Campus Kitchen collected 11,151 pounds of food from Aramark and additional donations from students, faculty and staff. The organization went on to collect 2,344 pounds of food from fraternities and sororities during Greek Week in 2014. That food was distributed to Allied Churches’ food pantry.
Riesett said that the Campus Kitchen at Elon has the capacity to become more effective in the community with the “Raise the Dough” competition because of the potential influx of donations.
Likewise, the competition helps other chapters learn new strategies to grow more influential in their individual geographic region.
“It is interesting because every Campus Kitchen is unique even though we all have the same mission and operate under a similar model,” Riesett said. “We all have to be unique because we all serve different communities, and those communities have different needs and resources.”
One of the resources unique to Elon’s Campus Kitchen is Loy Farm, which the university bought in 2000 to use for humanities, social science and natural science courses. Elon’s Campus Kitchen has been increasing the level of fresh produce in its meal packages thanks to its established relationship with members of Loy Farm.
The partnership also serves another purpose. Campus Kitchen is an educational resource, not just a nutritional one, for the Alamance County community. With the produce from Loy Farm, community members know the nutritional value of the food they are consuming from the farm.
Melanie Seidman, president of Elon’s Campus Kitchen, said the competition could allow the organization to develop stronger ties with Loy Farm. In addition, the company could inform members of the community and provide the best quality of foods to the county.
“The increased education will hopefully help the community members to begin to be able to make their own food and make smart choices about what they’re cooking,” Seidman said. “The extra money could go to helping out the farm or to higher quality ingredients to use in our cooking shifts.”