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New program opens its doors to campus

APSU students now have a new way to get involved to help alleviate the pains of poverty in Clarksville community.

The Center for Service-Learning hosted a ribbon cutting ceremony commemorating the launch of The Campus Kitchens Project partnership with APSU on Wednesday, April 12.

“The Campus Kitchens Project is a national non-profit, and our goal is to take the food that would normally be wasted by businesses then turn those into healthy meals for those in need,” program manager for the Campus Kitchens Project Jenny Bird said. “When we partner with a campus the organization assesses how best to serve the community.”

The organization, originally founded in 2001 is currently affiliated with 61 college campuses in the U.S. They provide resources for the campus kitchen to become operational, and meet guidelines that make it legal to serve the community fresh food.

The Center for Service-Learning, with help from Americorps Vista, has been running the S.O.S. Food Pantry for a few years. This service helps fight hunger within the student population.

“We did not want to stop at just helping needy students, and wanted to look towards helping the community of Clarksville,” coordinator of APSU’s Campus Kitchen Crystal Brinkley said. “One of our first goals with this project is to help the children in the community by teaching them certain skills that will break the cycle of poverty.”

Brinkley and the team of volunteers created a video demonstrating the need for The Campus Kitchen Project to come to APSU. This video was distributed to the public so they could vote, and the highest placed projects received a grant to help get the projects off the ground.

APSU placed third overall, and they received a $5,000 grant.

“The area around campus is a food desert, as the only full grocery store is a few miles away, and the only thing near by is convenience stores that do not offer nutritious options,” faculty adviser for the project and professor of political science Mike Gruszczynski said.

The kitchen will start serving food on Wednesday nights, and will be operating out of the Salvation Army on Kraft Street.

Wednesday nights are the Salvation Army’s youth-focused nights, which synergizes with the Campus Kitchen’s goal of focusing on Clarksville’s impoverished youth.

Interest meetings will be held next fall to make students aware of The Campus Kitchen Project, and other ways to get students to volunteer for the project.

“I used the S.O.S. Food Pantry for two and a half years, so I wanted to give back by volunteering here,” co-volunteer of the year senior English major Wayne White said. “Volunteering can help a student with meeting new people by forming a network of contacts, and it is also good for the soul to help those in need.”

For more information on Campus Kitchen as an organization, visit their website at http://www.campuskitchens.org/, or visit the Salvation Army’s website for general information at http://www.salvationarmyusa.org/.

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