Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The D.C. Central Kitchen

What do you do when a well-established not profit wants to throw money at you to start something that will benefit others? You discuss the logistics of running that project, and wonder whether Stanford is really the right fit...and perhaps jump for philanthropic joy.

Two top executives from the D.C. Central Kitchen presented to a lunch group at the Haas Center for Public Service on Friday April, 30th. They introduced two projects. The first, the central kitchen, uses food that would have been wasted and turns out 4,500 meals per week in the D.C. area. In addition, they provide job training and employment for disenfranchised individuals, thus feeding the hungry and eliminating some of that need in the process.

The second project, and the one that they wanted Stanford to adopt, is their campus kitchens model. A similar model of potential food waste instead being prepared provided to needy individuals, would be used. They were adamant that the Stanford name would benefit their organization enough to warrant a fully funded program. Currently, they have 26 participating schools, none of which are in California.

Stanford Glean is definitely interested in the program, there are many logistical problems, relating to Stanford's location and unique access to kitchens. There would certainly have to be extensive coordination if the project were going to use all of the resources Stanford has to give. Pick-ups would need to be done from dining services and the many co-ops and self-ops on campus. Given that there are many kitchens on campus, with super easy student access, perhaps a rotating schedule would ensure that the burden was spread evenly. In addition, it would give many people an easy chance to participate in the program and could recruit followers.

The gleaning project would have to decide if the fruits of its labors would continue to support the Free Farm and Julian pantry or if the material would be used in the campus kitchen project (alternately, of course, they could remain entirely separate). There is something to be said for people having responsibility for themselves and feeling good about that. The free farm stand and Julian allow for people in part to decide how they will prepare food and have some autonomy related to that preparation. In the case of the farm, there is a lot of learning in the community about farming and eating healthily. Although for those who are homeless, a hot meal might be more beneficial, the services we are currently providing are different and of value.

Perhaps by increasing our presence on campus we could contribute to both.

The last concern is who this kitchen project would feed. That would take more and complete research about feeding programs in the area, which has not yet been completed.

Let Stanford Glean know if you are interested in the Campus Kitchen Project! stanfordglean@gmail.com

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