Campus Kitchen addresses hunger


Launched in November 2010, Campus Kitchen at Detroit Mercy combats food insecurity in Detroit.

During the week, volunteers and workers recover unused food from local grocery stores and the university’s on-campus dining centers, and then redistributes it to the chapter’s 11 non-profit partners.

In doing so, the university’s chapter diverted $14,152 worth of food from waste streams in 2017.

It also helped raise over $10,000, while saving 12,096 pounds of food, including fresh fruits and vegetables, which in turn provided hundreds of meals to Detroiters.

“Our mission is to develop student leaders through thoughtful engagement with community-driven initiatives that create a more equitable and sustainable food system,” said Clara Gamalski, the chapter’s staff coordinator.

Detroit Mercy volunteers also assist at a number of local community gardens and with education programming and fundraisers on and off campus.

Gamalski, who has a master’s degree in food studies, joined the university last year.

The Detroit Mercy chapter is one of more than 60 affiliated with the national organization.

In the chapter’s 2017 annual report, the Rev. Tim Hipskind, director of Service Learning, applauded Gamalski’s efforts.

“Gamalski is not only affirming the framework that we established for the CK (Campus Kitchen) mission, but she is also helping us understand each piece of it in much greater depth,” he said in the report.

He added that Gamalski has brought “a more nuanced understanding of the food system.”

Gamalski said she likes to break down the chapter’s mission into three simple yet important parts:

> First, to develop student leaders.

As part of the university’s Institute for Leadership and Service, different students get the opportunity to lead in the creation of community and fundraising events.

> Second, to work with community-driven initiatives.

“Rather than starting our own community garden off campus,” Gamalski said, “we’re going to work with an existing organization and their garden, where we can then use university resources to support them.”

> Third, to promote a more equitable food service by limiting the way food is delivered and disposed of.

The chapter’s work all revolves around community food security.

What is it?

Well, depending on who you are, what you stand for and how you access your information, the answers could differ.

Detroit Food Policy Council put it this way: “The condition in which all members of a community have access, in close proximity, to adequate amounts of nutritious, culturally appropriate food at all times from sources that are environmentally sound and just.”

If you’re interested in volunteering with Campus Kitchen, email Gamalski at