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Church Reduces Food Waste at Campus Kitchen

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Statistics from the Society of St. Andrew suggest that 40 percent of food produced in the United States ends up getting thrown away. Campus Kitchens is a program that collects surplus food from stores and restaurants and mobilizes student volunteers to turn that food waste into meals for the hungry and homeless. National United Methodist in Washington, D.C., runs a Campus Kitchen. Being close to several universities, the ministry draws lots of college students who are hungry to serve others.


Washington, D.C.

These kale, squash and tomatoes were headed for the trash.

(voice of volunteer) “On Saturdays, I typically get 4 to 500 pounds of produce.”

But National United Methodist Church in Washington, D.C., has a chef who turns surplus food into made from scratch, healthy meals for the homeless and hungry.

Anthony Mickens, Executive Chef of Campus Kitchen of Washington, D.C.:

“We get an abundance of meat such as lamb, veal, filet mignon. When the food recovery comes in, I look at what we have and then I do my meal planning.”

Efrem Perkins: “It kind of gives you that home-cooked taste.”

Campus Kitchens uses this model in several U.S. cities. Restaurants and groceries supply the food, success depends on volunteers.

Raneika White: “I’m on dish duty in the kitchen where we’re preparing apple crisp to go out and feed the homeless.”

The church partnered with nearby American University but helping hands come from all over DC and from within the congregation.

Kent Weaver, National United Methodist Church: “There are means of making our faith real. They can see the impact of what they do.”

Volunteer: “Fifty pounds of squash. I don’t know what Anthony will do with it but I’m sure he’ll make something good.”

Pulling in this weekly harvest, preparing 1300 meals, and transporting them all over town takes an enormous ongoing commitment. But volunteers and church members want to see less wasted food and more good stewardship.

Efrem Perkins “A good meal means the difference between a good and a bad day.”

Anthony Mickens, Executive Chef of Campus Kitchen of Washington, D.C.:

“Making sure that no one goes hungry is very fulfilling and sometimes that meal is the only meal that they see for that day.”

Raneika White: “It really makes me proud to be a member of the United Methodist Church, that we’re serving our communities and not just here taking up a space.”

The Campus Kitchens Project is a nonprofit that partners with students and schools to recover food that would have gone to waste and transform it into nutritious meals for the community. 

This video was produced by United Methodist Communications in Nashville, TN.

This video was first posted on Oct. 11, 2016, and updated in February 2019.

United Methodist Communications is an agency of The United Methodist Church

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