Answers to a recent survey sent out are raising funds for Keene’s local Community Kitchen, as well as propelling potential changes for Keene State College’s Zorn Dining Commons.
A dollar will be donated by Sodexo, which owns the Zorn Dining Commons, for every survey completed, up to $200.
General Manager of Sodexo Josef Quirinale said they donating to Keene’s Community Kitchen because it comes down to primarily being about food. He explained that it’s not specifically cash that’s given to the Community Kitchen, but food that’s been purchased with the money raised.
“It’s associated with feeding the hungry and that seems to be what we’re in the business of doing,” he said. Quirinale said this survey and incentive are not new to campus. “We’ve had the same incentive for several years…and it usually is to a worthy cause that we can locally donate to,” he said.
Quirinale said that unfortunately, the survey doesn’t always reach the numbers it’s sent out to. “There are probably 3,000 to 5,000 people this survey goes out to and we only get at the most 300 responses,” he said.
KSC junior Alexandra Sholtes said that’s probably due to the fact that it was sent as an email. “I get so busy. I think the biggest issue isn’t even with KSC students, but with our community; it’s so hard to find a way to connect with others,” she said.
Sholtes said the idea of what Sodexo is doing is great, however, she said, “I think it’s really awesome. Now I’ll have to go do it now that I know about it,” she said.
Sholtes said that even a poster could help bring about awareness or having a presentation about hunger in the community outside of KSC. Sholtes said she had first heard of Keene’s Community Kitchen though her sorority.
“I’ve volunteered at the Community Kitchen with Delta Phi Epsilon. I had never heard about it before on-campus,” she said.
Sodexo Registered Dietitian and Marketing Manager Rebecca Hunt confirmed the survey was sent as an email to the KSC community. She continued to say that the survey isn’t just about helping the Community Kitchen, but also the KSC community.
Hunt said that the information is then used to make changes to better serve the KSC community. “[The survey] helps us to make more informed decisions,” she said.
KSC bookstore employee Laurie Neff said she probably wouldn’t have filled the survey out if there hadn’t been something on there explaining a dollar would be donated for each survey completed. “I don’t very often eat [in] the D.C., but I filled it (the survey) out because they were donating a dollar. It brings in the community,” she said.
Community Kitchen Director Phoebe Bray said she’s seen many KSC students volunteering at their location. “A couple of years ago, we were kind of adopted by TKE, the fraternity. They’ve been wonderful; they come and help us get the kitchen sorted out for events,” she said.
Bray said the fraternity also raised donations while sleeping in cardboard boxes to educate about homelessness, as well as organizing a local food drive. “We are delighted to have the partnership with Keene State,” she said.
Bray said she feels that being located in a college town is definitely beneficial for them. She said the community kitchen is vital to Keene’s community.
“Currently we have about 3,000 people registered in our food pantry, and we serve between 95 and 100 [people] on a regular basis in our free evening meal, so I’m not sure what these people would do,” she said.
Bray said in an average week, the Community Kitchen is serving between 350 and 400 families.
She said if a student wants to get involved, they can help make dinner from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. or help serve it from 5 p.m. to 6:20 p.m.
Bray also said dinner is open for students to eat.
“Students are among some of the lowest income [groups] in our community, so if any students are having problems feeding themselves, then they are more than welcomed to take part in the dinner,” she said.
She continued to say that the food served is made fresh every day. “We try and do a complete and balanced meal,” she said. Bray said donations are given from “a variety of places.”
She said they go to different restaurants and grocery stores to get food that will otherwise go bad in the following days. “We also have a really good relationship with the New Hampshire Food Bank,” she said.
Bray said the community of Keene is also very charitable and willing to help. She said working at the Community Kitchen is tremendously rewarding.
She continued, “I just think it reminds people that no matter how good their life is, not everybody is having that good a life. People don’t come to a food pantry for fun.”
The survey started Monday, Sept. 26, and will end Friday, Oct. 7.
Dorothy England can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org