UK Dining helps community by donating leftovers


Champions Kitchen

Hayden Gooding

UK’s residential dining halls give back by donating leftover food to local food pantries and organizations to reduce food waste and help those struggling with hunger.

Carolyn Gahn, UK Dining Sustainability Manager, said any food, including prepared food that wasn’t put out at the self-serve stations and unused food that was served by the employees, can be donated if they didn’t use it all. She said that any leftover ingredients that didn’t get used that day can be donated as well.

Right now, UK Dining is paired with and donates to Campus Kitchen and God’s Food Pantry, Gahn said.

Gahn said Campus Kitchen is a student-led organization that has a kitchen located in Funkhouser. They pick up leftover food twice a week and find a way to reprepare it.

“They figure out a way to use everything [given to them for] a new meal,” Gahn said.

Campus Kitchen volunteers work together to prepare meals for students struggling with hunger and others in the community who are dealing with poverty, hunger, isolation or homelessness.

“Campus Kitchen is always looking for more student volunteers, [and] any community member can sign up,” said Connor VanMeter, president of Campus Kitchen.

God’s Food Pantry is always available and willing to take donations from UK. They will pick up unused food from several events that happen on campus. They also came by at the end of the fall semester to pick up any remaining food once the students left for break.

“It is an important concept to reduce the amount of waste,” Gahn said.

Last semester, through Campus Kitchen and God’s Food Pantry, 5,500 pounds of food were donated from UK.

“Seeing food wasted is pretty discouraging, so the fact that we can donate almost every bit of that is incredible,” Gahn said. “And knowing God’s Food Pantry feeds one in five children in Kentucky, I didn’t realize how much people accessed the pantries in the state.”

The university also offers Big Blue Pantry, a food pantry on campus for students.

VanMeter said he encourages students to use the Big Blue Pantry to access a meal whenever it isn’t a Campus Kitchen pick up day.

UK will continue to fight against food waste and provide meals for those in need.

“If a school as big as UK can contribute to [this], that’s really great,” Gahn said.