The four dining halls at Tech are heading into a philanthropic direction after the integration of Campus Kitchen since this April and the soon-to-launch Klemis Kitchen.
Campus Kitchen is a student-run organization that transforms unused dining hall ingredients into meals for poor communities outside of campus in Atlanta.
“In our business, buying ingredients in bulks is the cheaper option and campus restaurants will always overproduce food,” said Grant Grimes, sustainability coordinator at Tech.
Launched along with the Campus Kitchen project is Klemis Kitchen, which provides meals to students who face food insecurity.
“Klemis Kitchen was founded upon the legacy of Tommy Klemis, the owner of Junior’s Grill,” said Sidhartha Sinha, one of the students who contributed to the program. “Tommy’s generosity and commitment to helping students, especially those in need, is the idea and impetus behind Klemis Kitchen.”
One of the main drives of the Campus Kitchen project is to minimize food waste creation and use leftover food for good.
“Trying to minimize food waste is kind like experimentation,” said Angelique Payne, a cook at Brittain Dining Hall. “If we have a new item out, we basically follow its recipe and the yield amount. If we see that the food is popular then we use that observation as a reference so we’d double the yield amount next time,”
The excess food is first sourced from the rest of the dining halls and restaurants in Student Center Food Court, then transported in giant “hotel pans” to the Brittain kitchen for individual packaging and further processing. Extra foods generated at Brittain and North Avenue are the primary resource.
As it recruits more student volunteers, Campus Kitchen looks to expand to other dining halls.
The Campus Kitchen was initially promoted with Sodexo company’s sponsorship two years ago. Although Campus Kitchen has been implemented at other schools, coordination between student volunteers, Dining the Honors Program and the national Campus Kitchen Project was slow.
“It was very time consuming, since I was also a full-time student at the time, but was definitely well worth the effort,” Grimes said.
When Grimes was a student, he developed an idea similar to Campus Kitchen for an English class.
When he proposed his idea to a dining hall marketing manager, he learned about Campus Kitchen. Grimes interned at the Brittain dining hall in 2012 and is now a postgraduate full-time employee for Sodexo.
Other students—Olivia Pan and Sophia Rashid, who are currently in charge of the Campus Kitchen student organization—helped him to set up Campus Kitchen on campus. These students also created a YouTube video promoting the idea to a video contest and received a $5000 grant for the project.
“Because we want to offer balanced meal for the people receiving the food, we’re hoping to spend the grant money toward staple foods such as pasta, rice, fruits, and vegetables, Grimes said.
Tech is the second Campus Kitchen implemented in Georgia after the University of Georgia.