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ARAMARK gift funds first year of Campus Kitchen

The company that oversees all food and catering operations at Elon University presented a $50,000 gift to school leaders Tuesday morning at College Coffee to fund a new community service program set to begin this year on campus.

The gift from ARAMARK supports the Campus Kitchens Project, a joint effort between the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement, ARAMARK and Allied Churches of Alamance County.

The Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit has locations at more than 25 campuses, each of which provide thousands of meals while offering supplemental programming to address root causes of hunger.

Allied Churches will be the university’s primary community partner and food recipient during the first year of operation. Allied Churches is a non-denominational organization serving Alamance County’s homeless and disadvantaged citizens while challenging and empowering them to become self-sufficient.

“This is an incredibly generous gift,” said Elon University President Leo M. Lambert. “We are so excited about Campus Kitchen coming to Elon. It is a great program and I think it just espouses Elon’s values so beautifully. It’s another way for us to partner with community members in need and for us to demonstrate that this is not a gated community.

“This is not a university with a wall around it. This is a university that is in touch with our neighbors, and we are just thrilled to have this gift, which will support the entire first year of operations for Campus Kitchen.”

Lambert’s wife, Laurie, championed the Campus Kitchen cause for more than a year and spearheaded efforts to establish the program at Elon. She also offered remarks at the Sept. 14 ceremony.

“Campus Kitchen is a program that has so many wonderful benefits right up front that immediately appeal to our instincts and values,” Laurie Lambert said. “Campus Kitchen has this campus community buzzing with ideas as to how students can benefit from leadership opportunities and how faculty can incorporate engaged learning into coursework.

Campus Kitchen fulfills its mission of using service as a tool to recycle food, empower families and individuals to make changes in their lives, and provide leadership opportunities to students. Its operations at Elon will share space with dining services at the Colonnades dining hall.

ARAMARK will also provide resources including available food, storage space, general expertise and equipment to support the initiative. The gift comes as ARAMARK marks its 50th year of partnership with the university.

“Together we have pushed the limits of a campus dining program to be more than simply feeding students, but indeed about being active members of the university community and setting the benchmark for campus dining programs nationwide,” said Mary Thornton, regional vice president for the southeast region, Higher Education division of ARAMARK. “The gift to the university today to fund the launching of the Campus Kitchen Project here at Elon is yet another example of how we partner to support the next generation’s world leaders in the effort to solve hunger.”

Elon University has hired Holly Anderson, a former site coordinator through the Kalamazoo “Communities in Schools” initiative in Michigan, to serve as the coordinator for the program.

Anderson received the prestigious Howard R. Swearer Humanitarian Award from the National Campus Compact, as well as two Michigan Campus Compact awards, for her creativity and passion for social change and food justice.

Mary Thornton and Jeff Gazda of ARAMARK present a $50,000 gift to Elon University President Leo M. Lambert.

The Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement will spend the fall recruiting and training student volunteers for the project, with an official opening expected in February 2011. For more information visit www.campuskitchens.org. Holly Anderson can be contacted at handerson7@elon.edu or (336) 278-7250.


Staff and students from the Kernodle Center for Service Learning and Community Engagement joined with Laurie Lambert, President Leo M. Lambert and company leaders from ARAMARK at College Coffee to celebrate a gift from the dining services vendor to help fund the first year of Campus Kitchen at Elon.
Eric Townsend,
9/14/2010 3:01 PM