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Campus Kitchens celebrates milestone, 'Points of Light' award

  • Cooking for a cause
    Cooking for a cause  CKWM volunteers devote roughly 35 hours per week preparing and repackaging surplus foods from area restaurants and grocery stores.  Photo courtesy of CKWM
  • Helping the community
    Helping the community  In addition to providing hunger aid for the Williamsburg community, CKWM also provides various programming activities for local area children.  Photo courtesy of CKWM
  • Meeting a milestone
    Meeting a milestone  In honor of reaching the 10,000th meal delivery mark, CKWM will be hosting a celebration on Friday, April 23, 4-6 p.m. with Robert Egger (center), founder and President of DC Central Kitchen, as the guest speaker. Here, CKWM volunteers meet with Egger on a previous trip to the College.  Photo courtesy of CKWM.
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As the William & Mary chapter of Campus Kitchens (CKWM) celebrates its 10,000th meal milestone this Friday, it will also have something else to cheer about: its recent "Points of Light" Award.

The student organization, which serves food recovered from area restaurants and grocery stores to community members in need, will celebrate serving its 10,000th meal with an event in the Crim Dell meadow between 4 and 6 p.m. on April 23. Robert Egger, founder of D.C. Central Kitchen, will be on hand to help the group celebrate its success.

The celebration comes on the heels of the group receiving a "Points of Light" award. The awards, which are administered by the Points of Light Institute, were first created in 1989 by President George H.W. Bush in recognition of individuals making a difference and holding true to his inaugural address principles of a "thousand points of light."

LogoNominees are judged on the five criteria of addressing community needs, building connections, ongoing involvement, impact and innovation.

"I am so proud of the Campus Kitchens chapter at William & Mary," said Drew Stelljes, director of community engagement. "In a short time they have emerged as one of our most outstanding service organizations. They truly partner with the community, building bridges, developing friendships, and sharing meals."

CKWM, a student run non-profit organization started in October 2007, is part of The Campus Kitchens Project which spans over 20 different college campuses across the United States. The William & Mary chapter, whose ongoing mission is to meet hunger and nutritional needs to low income areas of the Williamsburg community, spends several days each week recovering excess food from local area businesses and repackaging the meals for the needy.

According to the institute's website, CKWM was recognized especially for its ability to not simply provide hunger relief to the Williamsburg community, but also to foster and uphold genuine relationships with the individuals of the community of which William & Mary is a part of.

"It's a fantastic feeling and a tremendous honor to have all our hard work recognized by the Points of Light Institute," said Andy Runyan, an Americorps VISTA coordinating CKWM's efforts. "We have broken out of the William & Mary bubble and embraced the Williamsburg community to break down barriers, make new friends, and contribute a lasting impact in a place we all call home."

Each week the group recovers roughly 75 pounds of food from local area restaurants and grocery stores and delivers about 130 meals to area residents. In the three years since its establishment, volunteers have donated more than 2,400 hours to collect almost 7,000 pounds worth of food.

Timmy Siverd '12, student coordinator of CKWM, said that simply helping to feed the poor, although important, is not the only mission goal of the CKWM.

"While alleviating hunger is the central tenet of our Campus Kitchen here at W&M, we have willingly taken on a much larger responsibility in the communities we serve," Siverd said. "Through our 'Fun at Five' and other programming activities, we strive to be active citizens in our communities. While we may physically live and spend most of our time on campus, we are extremely invested in leaving the Williamsburg community better than we found it."

Siverd said that the organization also helps to instill a sense of service and community engagement for the students involved.

"Most importantly, I think CKWM instills in you a dedication to service and a responsibility to be an active citizen wherever it is that you settle down," Siverd said. "Poverty and hardship exists in every community, and I think that working with Campus Kitchens instills this sense of responsibility to one's community to us here at the College, and I sincerely hope that extends to our lives after college."

Runyan said that in the future, he sees a CKWM that will expand to have a larger presence in the community and be able to meet the needs of an ever changing local population.  This is not the first time the group has been honored for its work. Last month, the Virginia General Assembly passed legislation officially commending CKWM for its help in battling hunger in the local community.

"CKWM is more than just a student organization," Runyan said. "We have taken the steps to be a major contributor to the hunger relief efforts in the Williamsburg community. Through our programming and warm demeanor we have made deeper connections with the individuals we serve, we empower college students with leadership opportunities, and we build community relations between the Williamsburg community and the College."