Shift in focus allows Campus Kitchen to continue helping those in need during the pandemic

The service organization is providing home-cooked meals to people in need.

Campus Kitchen is an on-campus service opportunity through the Kernodle Center for Student Life. In addition to hosting food drives throughout the year, the organization also engages its volunteers to prepare meals to deliver to those in need in the Burlington community.

Campus Kitchen volunteers pause during a break in their work.

In a normal year, Campus Kitchen and their volunteers would partner with Elon Dining to cook fresh meals during a weekly shift. Now, due to pandemic restrictions, the organization has shifted to providing healthy snack options to those who need it.

“We really had to pivot,” said Kyle Anderson, assistant director of the Kernodle Center for Civic Life. “Elon Dining does not have enough room to host our weekly shifts because of restrictions. So instead, we’re trying to provide some supplements to meals made by our partners. We just want to keep helping in any way we can.”

Campus Kitchen partners with the Allied Churches of Alamance County. The organization provides support to those navigating homelessness in the area.

Campus Kitchen assembles food into snack bags, which they then pass along to Allied Churches. The healthy snack packs are distributed to local seniors and K-12 students who are remote learning. Many of the remote learners are unable to get meals from their schools, so the snack packs are an extra way of ensuring that the students have enough food to eat throughout the school day.

Campus Kitchen relies on food grown at Elon’s Loy Farm to help support those in the community facing hunger issues.

Campus Kitchen volunteers currently package snack bags to give to over 130 seniors and students.

Most of the contents of the snack packs come from produce harvested at Elon’s Loy Farm. Every Sunday, volunteers spend a few hours on the farm harvesting produce.

“We usually blast some tunes and break up into groups to weed, harvest, plant and take general care of the land,” said Farm and Garden Coordinator Sarina Abraham ‘21. “I am extremely grateful to have such a beautiful and hard-working group come on Sundays to help feed a high-risk community.”

Abraham and her fellow Farm and Garden Coordinator Caroline Caplin ’21 begin each Sunday shift by explaining the purpose of the farm, and how volunteers are directly impacting the community.

Students at Loy Farm gathering food for distribution before the pandemic.

While the community-based organization is excited to get back into the kitchen, the volunteers are grateful to be able to make a difference during a time where volunteer opportunities are not as plentiful.

“This semester especially, with COVID affecting the campus, we have had a lot of volunteers come every week just to do some service and make some friends,” said Caplin. “It has been really nice seeing students want to be at the farm and taking time every Sunday just to be outside.”

The volunteers at the farm wear masks throughout the entire shift, and the produce that is harvested is brought directly to the Allied Churches kitchen.

Students are able to sign up for Sunday volunteer shifts through Phoenix Connect, or can apply to be a Farm and Garden Coordinator through Elon Volunteers.