Turkeypalooza Addresses Food Insecurity

Beginning on Sunday, Nov. 11, Campus Kitchen was bustling with student volunteers involved in cooking preparations. Mashing sweet potatoes and mixing stuffing in large containers, the students filled the kitchen with dynamic enthusiasm and anticipation for one of Campus Kitchen’s most popular events, Turkeypalooza.

As Wake Forest students look forward to enjoying a Thanksgiving meal with their families over Thanksgiving Break, many students volunteer at Campus Kitchen’s Turkeypalooza in order to ensure that food-insecure residents in the surrounding Winston-Salem area will also enjoy a Thanksgiving meal.

Turkeypalooza illustrates the spirit of the Thanksgiving holidays that permeates Campus Kitchen’s preparations as Wake Forest students volunteer to cook and to prepare Thanksgiving meals for delivery to its community partners.

Sophomore Lilian Nassif reflected upon her experience volunteering at Campus Kitchen, stating, “What I love the most about it is the fact that we get to engage directly in the local community in a way that’s so personal — through food.”

For many, Turkeypalooza highlights the importance of helping those in need. As an event occurring in the midst of National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Campus Kitchen’s Turkeypalooza also addresses the issue of food insecurity in Winston-Salem through the preparation of Thanksgiving meals for delivery to local organizations.

Campus Kitchen’s community partners include El Buen Pastor Latino Community Services, Veterans Helping Veterans, Samaritan Ministries, Azalea Terrace Senior Apartments, The Oliod, NC Faith Health, The Shalom Project and Parenting Path.

Campus Kitchen is also continually reaching out to more organizations in efforts to alleviate the current degree of food insecurity Winston-Salem community. For instance, this year’s Turkeypalooza event marks the initiation of an important partnership with Veterans Helping Veterans. Campus Kitchen volunteers will not only deliver meals to this organization, but also share a Thanksgiving meal with the veterans on Wednesday, Nov. 14.

Cooking shifts for Turkeypalooza are held from 5-9 p.m. each night from Sunday, Nov. 11, through Thursday, Nov. 15. The popularity of these cooking shifts generates a larger turnout than usual for Campus Kitchen, which is estimated to be 20 students per night.

During Turkeypalooza cooking shifts, volunteers prepare Thanksgiving staples from locally-sourced ingredients. This year, local farms donated 50 turkeys and 80 pounds of sweet potatoes to Campus Kitchen for Turkeypalooza. Volunteers will then use these ingredients to prepare Thanksgiving meals consisting of sweet potatoes, green beans, pumpkin cookies, turkey, cranberry sauce and vegetable stuffing. 

Combining these locally-sourced ingredients with the volunteer’s efforts, Campus Kitchen will prepare an estimated 400 meals during the hectic preparations of Turkeypalooza.

This is in order to provide as many people with Thanksgiving meals as possible, increasing Campus Kitchen’s typical quota of 200 to 250 meals during a normal week of volunteerism to 400 meals for Turkeypalooza.

Morgan Briggs, the student coordinator for Campus Kitchen, commented on the importance of Turkeypalooza’s provision of Thanksgiving meals to food-insecure Winston-Salem residents. “This is our chance to show that we really care about these people by providing a really homey meal.”

The estimated 400 meals that are prepared during Turkeypalooza are delivered to community partners like Samaritan Ministries, Parenting Path and Veterans Helping Veterans throughout the week, beginning this past Monday and ending with the final delivery scheduled for Friday, Nov. 16. In addition to these prepared meals, non-perishable food items for the upcoming winter months will also be delivered to local organizations.

Sophomore Shayari Peiris attested to the value of the connection formed between Campus Kitchen and its community partners. She felt this mutual bond allows students to witness first-hand the impact that their community service at Campus Kitchen makes upon organizations and food-insecure residents in the Winston-Salem community.

She appreciated the opportunity to “organize and sort the food and then bring it to a different location or shelter and get to see how they (the community partners) appreciate it. Like the Potter’s House, the people will talk to us and give us food to take back for us to eat as a thank you.”

Demonstrating this close bond, Campus Kitchen volunteers will personally deliver each of the meals to community organizations and will sit down to share a Thanksgiving meal with some of the groups, like Veterans Helping Veterans. This elucidates how the sense of community extends from the students collaborating to prepare meals in Campus Kitchen’s lounge to the members of community organizations, where students and food-insecure residents alike will share a Thanksgiving meal.

For many, this partnership between Campus Kitchen and community organizations dedicated to addressing the issue of food insecurity in Winston-Salem demonstrates the Wake Forest spirit of Pro Humanitate and the Thanksgiving spirit of compassion and humanity that are the central tenets of Campus Kitchen’s Turkeypalooza.