Campus Kitchen hosts Turkeypalooza to prepare for student shortage over break

he week-long event involved the whole campus in an effort to curb the lack of staffing and services when students leave for Thanksgiving break


Jess Kishbaugh

Washington and Lee University’s Campus Kitchen held a Turkeypalooza event from Nov. 8 to Nov. 19 featuring deliveries, backpack packing and a community dinner.

Campus Kitchen is a program run by the university which employs not only full-time staff members, but Washington and Lee students as well. Its main focuses are meal deliveries and education.

“Campus Kitchen has the overarching goal of addressing food waste and food insecurity and building community through food,” said Campus Kitchen Coordinator Ryan Brink, ’18. “We do that through a variety of different programs.”

These programs, said Brink, include hot meals through other community partner agencies, the Mobile Food Pantry, which distributes groceries, backpacks for students without access to meals over weekends, nutrition classes, and the new “Just Food” series.

Since 2006, according to their website, Campus Kitchen has served 337,745 meals in Rockbridge county and collected 46,306 volunteer hours.

Over the Turkeypalooza week, there were a number of opportunities to get involved in. There were turkey giveaways and deliveries, and throughout the day of Nov. 13, hour-long shifts were held to pack the backpacks for students who rely on free or reduced lunches. 

The goal for the day was to pack 6,000 backpacks to accommodate for the lack of student volunteers over breaks in the semester. But lack of supply isn’t the only impact that students leaving has on Campus Kitchen. Staffing for deliveries suffers a huge hit.

“It’s a lot of me filling in on those delivery shifts, pulling in some additional help from folks that are around…to help with preparing and delivering meals for the week or two on either side of that closure where there aren’t students,” Brink said.

In addition to the service opportunities, Campus Kitchen’s Turkeypalooza had lunches, a community dinner with the Native American Students Organization, and a raffle.

Even outside of the Turkeypalooza rush, Campus Kitchen is always looking for more volunteers.

“Folks can get engaged with Campus Kitchen throughout the year,” said Brink. “We have shifts happening every day of the week besides Saturday.”