Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee University (CKWL) was awarded the Outstanding Educational Institution Volunteer Program award for 2013 by Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell on Thursday, June 6.
CKWL was represented by two W&L seniors, both of whom have volunteered with the program since their first year at W&L and are members of its leadership team: Angelica Tillander, a history major from Mt. Prospect, Ill., and Emily Warner, a psychology major from Rockledge, Fla. Both students are also minors in poverty and human capability studies.
The students attended a semiprivate breakfast with the governor, who presented CKWL with an engraved glass award and posed for photographs with the winners.
"It's important that we celebrate the positive impact individuals, families, businesses and non-profits make in their communities through volunteerism each year," said Governor McDonnell. "The honorees recognized here today are agents of change and inspire all Virginians to engage in their communities."
CKWL combats hunger and promotes nutrition by recovering and reusing food that would otherwise go to waste and using it to provide balanced meals for low-income members of the community in Rockbridge County. In April 2012, the kitchen served its 100,000th meal. As of this spring, CKWL has served 131,328 meals, recovered 297,147 pounds of food and logged 23,653 volunteer hours.
The kitchen also operates a Weekend Backpack Program which covers all seven elementary schools in the Rockbridge area. Volunteers deliver backpacks filled with non-perishable food to the schools, targeting children who are eligible for free or reduced lunches and providing them with nutritious snacks for the weekend.
Another venture of CKWL has been the development of an organic garden on W&L's campus that is used not only to secure produce for the kitchen's operations, but also as a hands-on classroom for nutrition education.
CKWL began in 2006 operating out of temporarily vacant fraternity buildings at Washington and Lee. Six years later it moved into a newly-renovated permanent home equipped with walk-in coolers and new industrial appliances. The program is directed by Jenny Davidson, coordinator of student service learning at W&L.
"Campus Kitchen started out serving a few hot meals to a few places," said Warner. "When I joined the kitchen, I was absolutely amazed at how many different communities it is involved with in Rockbridge County. We serve every population — elderly, disabled, youth — pretty much anyone you can think of who might be in need."
Tillander pointed out that CKWL also engages students from across the W&L campus and from a wide array of backgrounds as well as fostering good student/community relations. "To have Campus Kitchen recognized for its volunteerism is a great thing for the organization," she said.
The Governor's Volunteerism and Community Service Awards have recognized exceptional volunteer service in Virginia for almost 20 years. The awards are coordinated by the Office on Volunteerism and Community Service in the Virginia Department of Social Services each year through solicitations of nominations from around the commonwealth.