Culinary Students Feed Community Through Campus Kitchens Project

In October 2010, Atlantic Cape’s Academy of Culinary Arts partnered with the Atlantic City Board of Education, Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City, The Richard Stockton College of New Jersey and Sodexo Food Services, to launch The Campus Kitchen at Atlantic City, which serves the Atlantic City community with meals created and prepared by talented culinary student volunteers.

Campus Kitchens Project at Atlantic City

The Campus Kitchen at Atlantic City is unique because it implements the innovative Campus Kitchen model using five organization partners:

  • Sodexo Foods: Identifies un-served, usable food
  • Atlantic City High School: Provides kitchen to prepare meals
  • Academy of Culinary Arts: Performs food inventory, cooks and plates meals
  • Stockton: Delivers meals to needy families
  • Boys & Girls Club of Atlantic City: Provides transportation to assist in meal delivery

Chef Educator Daniel Matt is a faculty volunteer for The Campus Kitchen Atlantic City. He helps students maintain proper application of management and culinary techniques.

“Nearly every week the students walk into the kitchen and have to plan a menu based on food items that were delivered just moments before they arrived, requiring them to utilize the information and techniques that they were taught at the Academy,” Matt said. “We started out producing 60 meals a week and it quickly grew to 120 meals a week or more.”

Putting Their Skills to Work

I lived in a bubble before becoming involved with this project. I never knew that right around the corner from me were people in desperate need of food. This project has changed my view on life.

Cindy Cassidy

“The most notable outcome of the Campus Kitchen Atlantic City is the development of management skills experienced by the student leaders,” Chef Kelly McClay, Dean of the ACA, said. 

Alumna Cindy Cassidy ’09 ACA is a Campus Kitchens student leader who is responsible for menu planning, managing volunteers and following standards for food safety.

“Working with the high school students had been the best part for me. They are so interested in what we as culinary students do and are so eager to learn new things. They are always asking questions and have been amazing at learning new things in the kitchen,” Cassidy, 23, said.

ACA student Kris Frazier, 27, a former volunteer firefighter, is involved with the Campus Kitchens Project because he enjoys giving back to the community.

“Circumstances in life are always changing and you never truly know when you may be in need,” Frazier said.

Frazier provides culinary instruction to Atlantic City High School students during meal production and handles social media for the Campus Kitchen at Atlantic City.

Since student volunteers use surplus and donated food to create meals, the menu creation process is challenging and fun.

“Some of the dishes we’ve served based on what we’ve recovered have been: BBQ Chicken Drumsticks with Macaroni and Cheese, Braised Cabbage and Baked Beans, and Homemade Meatloaf served over Steamed Broccoli and Potnips—a combination of mashed Potatoes and turnips—used in response to a surplus of turnips recovered from the South Jersey Food Bank,” said Jennifer Keeper, 32, ACA alumna and CKP student leader.

A Positive Experience

Campus Kitchens Project at Atlantic City

Shawn Zenszer, an ACA graduate and former CKP student leader, said his favorite moments of the project happened during meal deliveries. “The faces of the families—especially the children—was priceless. I loved knowing that our meals were going to people who really needed it,” he said.

“Just by the nature of the responsibilities, they have strengthened their skills in organization, ordering, inventory, menu development, team building, motivation, delegating and more. It has definitely been a very positive experience for the Academy students,” McClay said.

The Campus Kitchens Project (CKP) is a national food recycling and hunger relief initiative driven by teams of college and high school students, staff and faculty members. The central Campus Kitchen is located in Washington, D.C., and more than 25 satellite Campus Kitchens are working in communities across the United States to prepare meals from unused, usable cafeteria food and deliver them to needy families.