Year in Review

Here at Washington and Lee University the fiscal year ends June 30.  In going with that schedule, that means it is time for us at CKWL to reflect on another year gone by.  This year has seen some incredible milestones, and the future continue to looks bright.   So let’s reflect on 2011-2012 and look to the future.


Last year started out great.  We’d just received news that CKWL was receiving a $25,000 grant from the Wal-Mart Foundation to support our Weekend Backpack Snack Program and the purchase of a vehicle to call our own.  Tomas and Sarah shared in the excitement when we purchased a new to us 2009 Volkeswagon Routan.

In September our Weekend Backpack Snack Program was able to expand to include both Central Elementary and Waddell Elementary School.  Manly Memorial Baptist Church adopted Central Elementary School to pack and deliver backpacks weekly.  The youth group from Lexington Baptist Church packed all the rest!

In October our CKWL contingent hit the road.  Alvin Thomas ’14, Jenny Bulley ’14 and I drove to St. Louis for the Campus Kitchens Project Conference jointly hosted by CKSLU and CKWashU.  We just so happened to overlap with the World Series.

In November AmeriCorps *VISTA member Stephanie Furlong joined our ranks just in time for Turkeypalooza.  There’s nothing quite like jumping right in by serving 468 pounds of turkey!

December is slower at the Campus Kitchen as we prepare for our holiday break.  Of course, a highlight every holiday is the Magnolia Center’s Christmas play.  Mark your calendars for this coming year, it is always a hit!

In January our Backpack Program expanded once more to include Mountainview Elementary School.  This was made possible by grant support from the Gadsden Fund.  January also brought Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital on board as a food donor.

In February we explored the color spectrum of fruits and veggies at Rockbridge Area Occupational Center, the Magnolia Center, and the Lexington Office on Youth.  Do you eat the rainbow?

In April we served our 100,000th meal in the Rockbridge area.  We are so grateful for the opportunity to serve our partner agencies and spend time with our clients.  We look forward to continuing to serve in years to come!

And finally, our year has concluded with the construction of our new (and permanent) home in the Global Service House.

Looking Forward

And so, as we look into 2012-2013, we foresee:

  • A move into the new Campus Kitchen in August 2012, with a dedication later in the fall.
  • A partnership with the Buena Vista elementary schools through the Weekend Backpack Program beginning in September 2012.
  • Increased student voice on our blog.
  • Another conference road trip, this time to CKLEE in Tennessee.
  • Continued expansion of our services as we grow into our new space.

Think back on your year with the Campus Kitchen.  What sticks out to you?  Share your favorite CK memories in the comments!


When the power goes out…

Rockbridge County is a bit crazy right now with the power outages caused by the derecho storm on Friday night.  We are so very lucky that the Campus Kitchen has power so we have not had to toss any food.  We are also happy to be in a position to help our clients.  Multiple assisted living and group homes we serve on a regular basis are without power.  We are doing our best to meet their needs.

We made a bonus trip to Natural Bridge this morning to find clients grouped together in a room with fans run off of generators.  We brought as many dry foods for them to snack on as we could and will bring a hot dinner tonight.  We’re just glad that those needing oxygen have access to it. 

Dominion is hoping to have 85% of the outages restored by this evening.  We want our clients to be comfortable and hope they are included in that 85% but if not we’ll be back at it tomorrow, and even on the 4th as needed. 

Do you have power?  How are you coping with the heat?

An Effective Volunteer

Last weekend I had the privilege of presenting to the 2012 Shepherd Alliance Interns about how they can be an effective full-time volunteer this summer within their placements.  Kimberly Phillips from Career Services gave an excellent introduction to making a good first impression and technicalities of how interns can develop desirable work skills on the job.  I was able to expand on Kimberly’s points speaking from personal experience, both as a Shepherd Alliance Intern in 2006 and as a supervisor to Alliance interns the past several summers.

This is me, Summer 2006, getting to know DC with my fellow interns.

In case you missed it and would like some hints on making the most of an intensive summer of service, here are the highlights from our presentation:

  • Non-profits are notoriously under-staffed.  As a summer intern/volunteer you want to make a good first impression by adopting the right work attitudes so that your presence eases the load of your co-workers.  Kimberly highlighted humility, a willingness to learn, respect (for staff and clients alike), confidence, open-mindedness, a good work ethic and a positive attitude.
  • Dress codes at non-profits are often casual.  Be sure to overdress at the start and follow the example of others.   Remember that the campus and real world definitions of appropriate dress are worlds apart:  watch the length of your shorts/skirts and keep your t-shirts clean, literally and figuratively.
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate.  It is absolutely essential that when you are given a task you follow up with your supervisor, even if it is just to let them know you’re working on it.  Your supervisor will not know your strengths, weaknesses, and skill level when you start work so it is your job to ask questions and offer solutions to problems. Effectively communicating your expectations and abilities with your supervisor can mean the difference between an experience and a great experience!
  • Develop relationships.  My guess is that you’re in this position because you have an interest in the issue that is being addressed.  Spend time getting to know your co-workers who are making a career out of this.  Pick their brains for ideas and know-how.  Talk to clients; learn their stories.  Often these experiences push us beyond our comfort zones, but that is often when we learn the most.
  • Know the boundaries of your position and stay within them.  If you are working in a hunger relief organization and a client is asking for gifts, rides, or anything else that falls outside the bounds of the organization, say no. Ask your supervisor for advice in the situation and research organizations that provide those services.  Your actions on behalf of the non-profit you work with represent that non-profit and set a precedent for the behavior and expectations of clients that may persist long after your summer job.  Your organization has guidelines for a reason- stick to them!

There you have it, the basics for turning a summer service opportunity into a true service-learning experience.

What would you add to the list?  Have you had an intensive summer of service experience?  Share some of your wisdom in the comments!

Call to Action from the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank

The Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee is a member agency of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.  Just yesterday we received this email with a call to action for hunger related policy.  Please take a minute to read, and follow up on this call to action.

Action Alert: The Farm Bill is Moving in the Senate–Call Congress


The Senate Agriculture Committee is poised to release its farm bill over the next several days and we need to make sure that their bill protects and strengthens critical hunger-relief programs. Millions of Americans all across the country are struggling to put food on the table. With unemployment expected to remain above 8 percent this year and long-term unemployment at still at record highs, programs like SNAP and TEFAP are more important than ever. Your Senators need to hear from you TODAY. We hope you can take a moment to call both of your senators and help us demonstrate how important hunger-relief programs are to your community.

Call Today!

Just dial 1-877-698-8228 to be connected directly to both of your senators. The system allows you to connect toll-free to both of your senators without hanging up the phone.

  • Dial 1-877-698-8228. When prompted, enter your zip code and listen to the brief instructions. You’ll then be patched through to your first Senator’s office automatically.
  • Tell them that you are a constituent and state the name of the town you are calling from.
  • Let them know you are calling about the Farm Bill and deliver these two important messages:TEFAP Message: Please support strengthening funding for TEFAP, which is a critical source of food for food banks and the clients we serve.

    SNAP Message: I urge you to support SNAP and oppose any proposals that would change SNAP’s structure or reduce funding, restrict eligibility or reduce benefits.

Spread the Word!

One call is not enough! Be sure to share our action alert with your agencies, volunteers, donors, advocates, partners, board members, and other local supporters. Post it on Facebook and Twitter. Help us show Congress that there is a constituency for ending hunger in America!

Finding the Under-served

What does it look like to serve the under-served?  Here at the Campus Kitchen at Washington and Lee we partner with agencies to identify our clients.  And we love our clients.  But there is still a larger need, and we want to do something about it.  We want to serve the under-served.  But if someone is under-served, how do we identify them?

Feeding America has a great tool to identify need- the Map the Meal Gap tool.  According to this tool, there are 2,540 individuals in the Rockbridge area (Buena Vista, Lexington and Rockbridge County) dealing with food insecurity.  This is 11% of our population.

Of the 2,450 people dealing with food insecurity, 26% of them have an income greater than 185% of the poverty line.  That means that they do not qualify for many, if any, social support systems.  And they do not have guaranteed access to food.  They might be hungry.  How do we find them?

This summer, the Campus Kitchen will be exploring the Rockbridge area, searching for this population.  We’ll contact service clubs, volunteer organizations, and established non-profits.  We can do more and we want to put our effort into meeting the greatest needs we can find.

Can you help point us in the right direction?  Comment below or send an email to with ideas about where we should start.

A Rainbow of Health

Shiri Yadlin '12 passing out beads as our friends taste test the rainbow.

Today we celebrated Valentine’s Day at the Rockbridge Area Occupational Center a bit differently.  We made jewelry together, but it came with a catch.  We had an assortment of healthy fruits and vegetables with colored beads to match.  When trying the various food items, our clients learned about why that item is good for them and earned a bead for their bracelets.  They were able to taste the rainbow!   We offered:

  • Red: Cherry Tomatoes
  • Orange:  Baby Carrots
  • Yellow:  Sweet Bell Pepper
  • Green:  Cucumber
  • Blue:  Blueberries
  • Purple:  Grapes

We’re at it again tomorrow at the Magnolia Center and the Office on Youth.  Have you tasted the rainbow?

Stonewall Jackson Hospital Donating Food

Yesterday was our first official food pick-up from the Carilion Stonewall Jackson Hospital in Lexington!  We are thrilled to be receiving prepared food from another donor.  Today we received sweet and sour chicken, herbed potatoes, rice pilaf, creamed spinach, corn and cornbread muffins.  The hospital has much smaller quantities of leftovers than the dining halls at W&L and VMI, but the amount of food donated is absolutely perfect to fill our individual meals (which we deliver to Mountainview Terrace Apartments, Project Horizon, and DaVita Dialysis Center).  Thank you to Bonnie Snyder, food service manager at Stonewall Jackson, for working so tirelessly for this partnership!

Service Learning

This week has been quite busy as the Campus Kitchen is taking a role in academic experiences.  Professor Art Goldsmith is teaching the Economics of Social Issues and has requested that his students get involved with the Campus Kitchen.  We are THRILLED with the influx of volunteers and excited to introduce more of the W&L community to our wonderful clients.

Program Musings

Our Campus Kitchen is striving to make a big impact on hunger in Rockbridge County.  We add to our operations because a higher meal count automatically makes a bigger impact.  Instead of packing 120 backpacks/week we’re packing 300+.  Bigger number, bigger impact.

But what about going beyond just serving meals?  What can we do to make an impact that lasts longer than the calories provided by the food?  That is what CKWL is starting to look at, and here are our ideas:

  • Hold cooking sessions with clients.  These will start next week with the Magnolia Center and the Rockbridge Area Occupational Center.  Hopefully a bit more education about cooking will help keep stomachs full long term.

  • Improve and expand our youth nutrition education classes.  Continue to teach the value of a balanced diet, but also address hunger issues in Rockbridge County.  We want to talk about food insecurity and proper nutrition together.
  • Develop a healthy cooking on a budget curriculum to open up to the community.  We have a vision, but still need to make real progress.

What about you?  Has your CK made a big impact outside of meals served?  What ideas do you have to reach the community?