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Campus Kitchen

Morristown, N.J. (August 27, 2019) – Roughly 40% of all food produced in the United States will never be eaten. While millions of Americans struggle with food insecurity, or an inconsistent access to proper nutrition, perfectly good food is funneled into landfills. However, the Campus Kitchen at the Saint Elizabeth University (CKSEU), which opened in September 2018, is intent on altering this destructive cycle.

"The goal of CKSEU is to recover food that would have otherwise been thrown out and to repurpose it in a variety of ways," explains Kathleen Carozza, director of SEU's dietetic internship program. "It's addressing the ecological problem of food waste and the social problem of food insecurity."

Funded by a grant from The Campus Kitchens Project, CKSEU volunteers will collect unused food from the College's dining hall, local hotels and restaurants. Students who have received food safety training then prepare delicious meals for various non-profit organizations.

In its first year of operation, CKSEU recovered and repurposed more than 5,680 pounds of food that was distributed to seven different sites in New Jersey. The program also led to the creation of a College food pantry aimed at combating food insecurity on campus.

Campus Food Pantry

Late last fall, SEU opened a food pantry on campus following similar efforts by 20 other New Jersey colleges. Since nearly half of all college students in the United States do not know if they will be able to afford their next meal, this was a necessary addition.

"The demographic of students on most college campuses is changing rapidly," explains Carozza. "A lot of students are coming back for second degrees to facilitate career changes and the supplemental components of education get expensive."

Most students do not qualify for the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), or food stamps, so many are forced to sacrifice their nutritional needs. In fact, student hunger was cited as the third most important issue impacting campuses today by the National Association of Student Personnel Administrators.

"This is a serious problem all over the nation," says volunteer Tim Habboub, '20. "Not only does SEU's food pantry provide students with essential food items, it also distributes Panera baked goods, fresh fruit, brewed coffee and hygiene products. It's a huge help."

Located on the second flood of Mahoney Library, any student enrolled at SEU is eligible to visit the food pantry once a week. Depending on personal demographic information, students are then allotted a specific amount of food.

While SEU can't solve world hunger, the Campus Kitchen and Campus Food Pantry are steps in the right direction.

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