BW’s Campus Kitchen marks two years of community involvement

For over 30 years, the Center for Community Engagement at Baldwin Wallace University has made its mark in the Berea community and across the United States. The department strives to empower students to become contributing and compassionate citizens of an increasingly global society, one of the key components of Baldwin Wallace’s Mission Statement.  

With ever-increasing service, immersion, academic, and political engagement programs, the department has a vast range of opportunities to interact and impact the community. 

Campus Kitchen is one of the more recent programs added to the Center for Community Engagement. Campus Kitchen is a hunger relief program designed to reduce food waste and address local food insecurity. The BW leadership team for Campus Kitchen consists of six students with various positions.  

The Baldwin Wallace Campus Kitchen was founded on Feb. 23, 2016. The original Campus Kitchen was started in Washington, D.C. in 2001. The organization has grown to over 60 campuses around the country who are making a difference for the hungry nationwide. 

Olivia Plunkett, Education and Advocator Coordinator for Campus Kitchen, says, “Campus Kitchen gives me and everybody who participates a chance to feel a part of something bigger.” 

The students of the BW team use unserved/unused food that would otherwise go to waste and turn it into nutritious meals for the hungry citizens of Berea. The student-led organization does all of the planning, prepping, and serving for each meal. Campus Kitchen works closely with dining services and local grocery stores for food supply. On average, the team usually feeds around 40-50 people per meal. 

Plunkett said that, “Not only are we recovering food and working to end hunger, but we are also spending time with the elderly while having a family-style meal.”  

The Baldwin Wallace University kitchen plans to celebrate their two-year anniversary on Thursday, Feb. 22, by serving dinner to the residents of Quarrytown, an affordable housing complex for seniors managed by the Cuyahoga Metropolitan Housing Authority. Campus Kitchen serves this location the last Thursday of each month. In addition to Quarrytown, the organization also serves the Renee Jones Empowerment Center. These meals take place the third Saturday of each month.  

Not only are the students of Campus Kitchen serving these meals, but students are also given the opportunity to interact with the residents that enjoy the meals. 

Christy Walkuski, Director of Community Engagement & Service Learning, said, “The students have a large impact on the residents. They love the interactions.” 

The meals do more than just nourish hungry bodies; they are also bringing hope. 

Sheri Klatt, Intern for the Center for Community Engagement, said, “Before Campus Kitchen, there were no community events for residents to connect outside of their apartments.” 

Campus Kitchen has been beneficial to Quarrytown and has made a remarkable footprint in the community. The students of Baldwin Wallace enjoy the conversations during meals and always leave with a smile on their face.  

Current students at Baldwin Wallace University are encouraged to get involved with Campus Kitchen. The team is currently recruiting for leadership positions as well as volunteers for planning, prepping, and serving. Sign-ups for shifts are available through the organization’s MyBW page.