When two Bowdoin first years arrived on campus last fall, there seemed to be something missing: an organization helping to fight hunger.
So they decided to do something about it.
Having worked with the Campus Kitchen Project while in high school, Ian Yaffe '09 and David Falkof '09 decided to bring the program to Brunswick. The Campus Kitchen Project is a national program that links college dining services with community organizations to fight hunger.
"I came here with this affiliation already in place, and the project was something I had wanted to do," Yaffe said.
Traditionally, the Campus Kitchen Project has helped larger universities meet needs in big cities. Bringing the program to Brunswick would represent the first time the project has been implemented in a school and city of Bowdoin and Brunswick's respective sizes.
"There isn't a model for this type of size, so whatever we do becomes the model," Yaffe said.
Before coming to Bowdoin, Yaffe served on the board of directors of the Campus Kitchen Project in Washington, D.C., and Falkof spent two summers and a Thanksgiving volunteering with the Campus Kitchen Project in Chicago. Despite their similar visions of initiating the project at Bowdoin, they did not know each other until they were put in contact with one another through the organization's headquarters in Washington, D.C., last fall.
Yaffe and Falkof collaborated and proposed their plan to Director of Community Service Resource Center Susan Dorn.
"I was so excited that they were ready to do this," Dorn said.
Working with the Community Services Resource Center, Bowdoin college Dining Service, and Katie Kindick '09, the two students formulated a two-fold plan: through Bowdoin College Dining Service, the College would provide one meal each month to the Tedford Family Shelter, and it would transport unused food from Moulton Union and Thorne Hall each afternoon to the Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program.
Bowdoin provided its first meal to Tedford Shelter on Saturday, and according to Operations Director of Tedford Shelter Bruce Goodman, the meal "went over very, very well."
Goodman believes that the partnership will be successful for two reasons.
First, he said, "It will open up more of a sense of community for the folks here on the weekends."
Just as important, he noted, "It will benefit the folks that bring the meal to see what kind of impact it has had on the families staying here."
Kindick, who serves as the liaison between Bowdoin and the Tedford Shelter for the project, hopes to eventually make the meal donation a bimonthly service. She said that she would also like to see the partnership become more personal.
"I'm working with Tedford now to further the connection so that we aren't just people who come in once a month," she said.
The second part of the project, transferring leftover food from on-campus dining to Mid Coast Hunger Prevention, will begin next week.
Associate Director of Dining Services Ken Cardone has been working with the students to organize Bowdoin College Dining Service's involvement with the project. Cardone said he is very impressed with the hard work and energy that the students have put into the project.
"There isn't a doubt in my mind that this will be a huge success," he said.
According to Cardone, only small amounts of food are recovered each day because Bowdoin College Dining Service prepares meals in a methodical way that prevents much food from being left over. However, "every small bit is a plus," he said.
Each day, Bowdoin College Dining Service employees will place food that cannot be reused on a designated shelf in Moulton Union and Thorne Hall. Then, in the afternoon, a student volunteer will take the food to Mid Coast Hunger Prevention.
Although the remainder of the semester is essentially a trial period for the project, the students who initiated it believe that it will become a regular student organization by next fall.
"We're trying to get all the kinks out in the next few weeks," Falkof said.
Both Falkof and Yaffe are concerned with the sustainability of the program. They understand the importance of a strong foundation because people will begin to rely on the food they are providing.
Although Yaffe values the service that Bowdoin students will be providing to those beyond the College, he is equally interested in what the students will gain from the program.
"It is my belief that for volunteers to be successful in what they are doing, they have to be truly getting something out of it," he said.