“The Campus Kitchen at IUPUI”: A Student Led Initiative Launches To Reduce Waste and Give Back


On September 5, 2014 the Campus Kitchen at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis (IUPUI) officially launched becoming the first Campus Kitchen in Indiana and the 37th in the nation to join the Campus Kitchen Movement. The Campus Kitchens Project helps students to eradicate hunger and eliminate waste while creating a more sustainable campus through repurposing university and community food waste into free, healthy and nutritious meals which can then be served to the local people in need. Last year nationally, Campus Kitchens recovered 9, 000 lbs of food that would otherwise have gone to waste and were able to convert that into nearly 300,000 meals. In doing so, they have been able to contribute over $1 million in value back into the communities.

The Campus Kitchen slogan, “Student Powered Hunger Relief” holds true in the case of the IUPUI initiative as well as it was a class project that made students aware of a problem and motivated them into action and to seek assistance. No one told them to take the initiative, they wanted to, and chose to. In January of 2014, IUPUI students entered a video contest in which IUPUI and six other schools competed to receive a $5000 grant from the Sodexo Foundation to be put to use to assist at risk children in receiving nutritious food so that they can grow up to lead healthy, productive lives. Rallying the support of students, alumni, and community IUPUI beat out the competition to win the grant to kick off its Campus Kitchen by just one vote with a total of 10,092 votes. Talk about the power of one and the power of the collective at work! (View the winning video: Bring Campus Kitchens to IUPUI.)

Multiple partnerships between community, students, and the university strengthen and support this initiative. The Campus Kitchen at IUPUI is sponsored by the IUPUI Office of Sustainability and has a partnership with IUPUI Food Services provider Chartwells, providing them access to after hours use of the food prep facility, storage space, and donated food that would otherwise have gone to waste. Neighboring facilities Eskenazi Health and IU Health will also be donating excess food to the program.

Right now, the primary client of the IUPUI Campus Kitchen will be the Wheeler Mission in Indianapolis. Initial plans call for about 100 meals to be served once a month at Wheeler Mission on a Saturday. The intent of the Campus Kitchen is to not only serve a meal but to build community. Future plans include expanding the programs outreach by partnering with more clients to serve more meals.

If you'd like to learn how you can start a Campus Kitchen at your school and how to qualify for the next $5,000 Campus Kitchen grant opportunity, visit the Campus Kitchen Planner.