This Thanksgiving, in the spirit of Pro Humanitate, Wake Forest’s Campus Kitchen gave back to the Winston-Salem community in Turkeypalooza, its biggest event.
Turkeypalooza Campus Kitchen is a event in which it cooks Thanksgiving meals for each of its community partners, some of which include El Buen Pastor, Azalea Terrace, Stop Child Abuse Now (SCAN), Samaritan Ministries, Shalom Project, and North Carolina Faith Health. This year, Campus Kitchen cooked over 375 Thanksgiving meals for these partners.
The Campus Kitchen lounge was filled with excessively loud music, many people with turkey hats on rushing around with pans and sweet potatoes, and the delicious smells of a freshly cooked Thanksgiving meal. In addition, the large five-foot tall turkey that is blown up every year occupied the space.
The meals prepared during Turkeypalooza have resounding impacts on the Winston-Salem community. North Carolina has one of the highest levels of food insecurity in the nation, especially for children under the age of 18. Within North Carolina, the cities of Asheville, Greensboro, High Point and Winston-Salem rank highest in the percentage of the population considered to be food insecure on a regular basis. Thus, Turkeypalooza’s success in generating such a large quantity of meals for the Winston-Salem community has a substantial impact for all recipients.
Turkeypalooza also benefits local businesses and farms. This year, for example, over 115 pounds of sweet potatoes from the Milk and Honey Farm were purchased for the cause and 45 turkeys were purchased from a local turkey farm.
On the menu this year were roasted green beans, mashed sweet potatoes, fresh stuffing with cranberry sauce (not from the can), pumpkin cookies and, of course, turkey.
The success of the event was a result of the hard work and generosity of all the people involved. Donations put forth for the cause of buying all the necessary ingredients and cooking supplies totalled around $1,500 to $2,000, and were instrumental to the event’s success. Furthermore, student volunteers worked cooking shifts from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. each day of the week. Turkeypalooza is based solely on donations from various campus organizations and academic departments through both monetary and food donations, so the magnitude and success of the event stands as a testament to the generous, service-focused attitude on campus.
Those involved in overseeing the event at Campus Kitchen have high ambitions for the program in the future. Public Relations Director David Ajamy said he was ecstatic with the event this year. The group was allowed to use the official Wake Forest Snapchat story for the week and Ajamy said it was awesome to showcase Campus Kitchen and its work and to continue to spread information out about the organization to students.
The Turkeypalooza Snapchat story featured the humor and hard work of both the Campus Kitchen executive team and the volunteers. Through the use of social media, the organization is currently attempting to grow its presence.
“While I have many families at Wake Forest, my Campus Kitchen family is my favorite,” Ajamy said. “Working with students who not only have a passion for food justice but also want to help the local community I was raised in is just so beautiful.”
All of Campus Kitchens partner organization are in the local area, but most of them are actually in the historical neighborhood beside Wake Forest, the Boston Thurmond neighborhood. By working with Wake Forest’s neighbors, Ajamy believes it shows Wake Forest students the reality of food deserts that exist right beside campus.
Student Coordinator Allie Hubbard spoke of the goals of the program in coming years.
“We hope that we can continue to add new partner organizations and have an even bigger impact on the community,” Hubbard said.
In 2016, Campus Kitchen had over 1,300 volunteers who volunteered for a total of over 3,000 hours, recovering over 45,000 pounds of food and serving over 11,000 meals.
For students looking to get involved with Turkeypalooza and Campus Kitchen in the future, there are a variety of ways to have an impact.
For Turkeypalooza specifically, students can sign up to volunteer on cooking and delivery shifts.