LEXINGTON, Ky. (LEX 18) — Nourishing mind, body, and soul. That is the motto at the root of Farm to Fork on the University of Kentucky campus.
The program aimed at fighting food insecurity and promoting nutrition has been in motion since 2018, bringing students together inside the Funkhouser Building once a week for a free, fresh, and healthy meal open to all.
"We really wanted to open it up more to conversation, more to address nutrition inequality rather than food insecurity per se," said Kendra OoNorasak, director of community outreach in the dietetics program at UK.
Most of the food used to plan and make the meals is gleaned from local grocery stores and restaurants; food that would have otherwise been thrown away. Farm to Fork works not only to address nutrition inequality but food waste at the same time.
OoNorasak said, "About 40% of food is thrown away, and that's a waste of natural resources, a waste of labor, a waste of all the efforts."
"Our ingredients change from week to week, so it's kind of a creative process of trying to come up with how we can feed 100 people with the random vegetables we've got this week," said Jordan Hinton, a UK junior and volunteer in the kitchen.
The meal changes each week, but they are always cooked up by student volunteers. Each week, even throughout the pandemic, about 80 to 100 students come in and either grab the food and go or sit down inside the new sustainable Nourish dining room.
"They really are looking for a substantial meal that they feel good about, that they would feel energized and sustained throughout the entire day even if that's the only meal they have to eat," OoNorasak explained of the students who take advantage of the program.
Food also goes out to the community to places like the Hope Center, sending their mission beyond the boundaries of the campus.
"It's fun, rewarding and it's cool to interact with students who are just happy to get a hot meal," Hinton said.
Even the food they end up not using is composted. A sustainable program all around, shedding light on important causes while creating community and delicious food in the process.
Any UK student can pick up a free meal from the Farm to Fork program on Wednesdays between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. The Nourish space is located on the second floor of the Funkhouser Building.