News Release

Students at UDM Provide Food to Low-Income Neighbors

Start with a national food-harvesting organization. Mix together University of Detroit Mercy students eager to volunteer. Round up fresh extra food from area partners. Cook as needed and combine with other prepared food to make nutritious meals in the UDM Campus kitchen after hours. Then, deliver the fresh meals to a local shelter, homebound seniors and families in need. Repeat on a weekly basis. This is the recipe for the successful “Campus Kitchen at UDM” (CKUDM), which was launched last Jan., the first such program in the state.

Campus Kitchen Project, the national organization, seeks to empower the next generation of leaders to implement innovative models for combating hunger, developing food systems, and helping communities help themselves.

The program has grown to become one of UDM’s most successful community outreach efforts. Partnering agencies – St. Gregory the Great Church, Martin Park District Association and Peggy’s Place (an area shelter for women and children, run by COTS) – identify individuals and families in need of prepared meals. Weekly, about 100 meals are delivered to 20 individuals in their homes and 30 women and children at the shelter.

The national project has received ‘super-sized’ acclaim from recipients and partners alike. The fresh food is locally sourced from area partners: UDM (and their food vendor Sodexo), U of D Jesuit High School and Center for Creative Studies. Food is gathered from what’s been made but not served. For example, if the tacos were a hit but no one touched the spaghetti, what wasn't’t put on the food line can be gleaned. Gleaners Community Food Bank also provides food for the project.

The gleaned food is combined with other food that is cooked by students in the UDM kitchen on Saturday mornings. Then, students ride together to deliver the meals (two meals per recipient) to Peggy’s Place, and residential homes, most owned by seniors, in neighborhoods to the south and east of UDM’s McNichols Campus. Delving further into the “ingredients” of the program, meals must be balanced and contain a protein, starch, vegetable and dessert (or fruit).

With National Hunger and Homeless Awareness Week, Nov. 12-17, Amy Meldrum, student co-director of the program with Faith Trotter, was happy to receive turkeys that the students will cook on the weekend before Thanksgiving. Since regular deliveries vary around the holidays, extra food is delivered to recipients so they don’t run out.

“In the past, we’ve donated canned goods and other food to different organizations to help alleviate hunger,” says Fr. Tim Hipskind, S.J., director of Service Learning. “Many people think that hunger only happens in places like Africa. But it’s right here too, in our own neighborhoods. Now we are doing our own program to serve this need.”

Meldrum, a biochemistry major, says the project is a great outlet for her interest in nutrition and enables her to feed the hungry. “Recipients like to see students come up to their door to deliver the food. It gives them some social interaction, too. They want to know about the students,” she says.

Perrier Greene, Student VP for Community Partner Relations, has been with CKUDM since it started on campus. He is one of six students on the leadership team. He keeps things lively on the delivery runs. Greene knows what it’s like to be hungry because, as a young teen, he and his family had to get food from a soup kitchen during some tough times. Now the psychology major, who plans to work in Detroit Public Schools, has high praise for this volunteer effort. “I really love it,” he says. “I have a passion for seeing the small things that people can do to affect the human condition.”

Drew Peters, University Ministry, is part of the advisory team. He notes that students who participate get credit toward their student-learning requirement. UDM student organizations also require members to do five hours of volunteering each semester. Each weekend, around 10 volunteers help prepare and deliver the food.

“This has been a great thing to draw out the generosity of students and faculty at UDM,” says Fr. Hipskind. “It’s also been the doorway for further engagement with the community.”

Canned goods and other nonperishable items are always welcome and can be dropped off at the University Ministry or Student Life offices in the Student Center or in the Briggs Building, Room 232.

Release date: November 26, 2012

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The University of Detroit Mercy is Michigan's largest private Catholic University, offering approximately 100 majors and programs in 60 academic fields. Sponsored by the Society of Jesus (the Jesuits) and the Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, the University has three campuses located in downtown and northwest Detroit.

For the 12th consecutive year, UDM was ranked among the top tier of Midwestern master's universities in U.S.News & World Report's "Best Colleges," 2013 edition.