Evaluation of a sustainable student-led initiative on a college campus addressing food waste and food insecurity

Kendra Oonorasak, Makenzie Barr-Porter, Michael Pennell, Jordan Hinton, Julia Garner, Cora Kerber, Celia Ritter, Liana Dixon, Cana Rohde, Tammy Stephenson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


Food waste and food insecurity present a troubling paradox found across the globe, in local communities, and on college campuses. The Campus Kitchen at the University of Kentucky (CK) is a student-led, sustainability-focused service organization in the Feeding America Network that can serve as a local food waste checkpoint in the southeast region of the United States and address community and campus food insecurity through community-building activities. Farm-to-Fork (F2F), a free weekly meal and education program of CK, provides a case study of leveraging existing resources like student volunteers, CK infrastructure, and campus partners to address college food insecurity. In this case study, we evaluate the pilot model of CK and its F2F Program. The data gathered consist of the amount of food recovered, the number of meals prepared and distributed, and demographics and behavioral perceptions of college students attending F2F. From August 2018 to December 2019, CK food recovery and meal data were collected and an F2F cross-sectional student survey (N=284) was administered twice. The program development, implementation, and evaluation of F2F relies on the social-ecological model (SEM) to capture and highlight the complicated issues of food waste and food insecurity, and the layered approach any initiative addressing such issues must take. Ultimately, F2F highlights how programs such as CK can expand their missions of reducing food waste and food insecurity in communities and on college campuses. CK’s economically and environmentally sustainable practices can be built upon to improve the diversion of food waste and use socially inclusive approaches to provide healthy meals and resources to populations experiencing challenges with food insecurity, both on and off campus, as well as educate all those involved. In turn, such an initiative highlights the need to move beyond stopgap measures, such as food pantries, in both community and campus programs targeting food waste and food insecurity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-237
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development
Issue number4
StatePublished - Sep 22 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by University of Kentucky Chellgren Center, the Food Connection at the University of Kentucky, and University of Kentucky Student Sustainability Council.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 by the Authors.


  • Food Insecurity
  • Food Recovery
  • Food Waste
  • Higher Education
  • Social-Ecological Model
  • Universities

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)
  • Development
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Health(social science)


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