Campus Kitchen has long been known for efforts in food justice on campuses across America. The university’s branch expanded these efforts in February through a unique partnership with high-end artisanal grocery store, The Fresh Market.

Campus Kitchen Coordinator Shelley Graves heaves bags of food into the Student Life van on a daily Fresh Market delivery.Through Campus Kitchen, between 400 to 650 pounds of food each week are saved from the Winston-Salem Fresh Market dumpsters and distributed by three local agencies to families in need.  Though The Fresh Market has outlets across the Eastern US, only the Winston-Salem store has entered into a partnership of this sort largely because of the initiative of one of its part-time employees, Tracy Stegman.

Stegman, who works as a university Licensure Officer in the department of education, made the immediate connection between the role Campus Kitchen plays in food redistribution and the wasteful practices of her one-time employer. After several months of negations with the company last year, an agreement was reached and the first ever food drop occurred in February 2010.

Campus Kitchen serves as the middleman in this new program. Fresh Market employees gather the food from the shelves and ready it for departure. Campus Kitchen volunteers sort through the produce and deliver it to one of three agencies – El Buen Pastor, The Potter’s House, or The Shalom Project – and the agencies in turn distribute the food according to the most efficient means for their particular community.

Any produce that cannot be given in good faith to the organizations is used for compost in the Campus Garden and a community garden at El Buen Pastor.

The high-end groceries collected and sorted by Campus Kitchen volunteers play a key role in promoting food equality for those in need in Winston-Salem, according to Campus Kitchen Coordinator Shelley Graves said.

“Typically folks that are food insecure are relying on food banks and government program to get their food. This means a good majority of the food available to them is not perishable,” she said.

“For a lot of children in these families, this creates a definition of food for the rest of their lives. [The Fresh Market] food really expands [the definition of] food for these folks and removes some of the socioeconomic boundaries in the food system,” Graves said.

Caitlin Brooks, Outreach and Communications Intern