In a cramped kitchen upstairs in the Trojan Dining Center, seven volunteers don hairnets and combat the heat as they give a second life to leftovers through the Campus Kitchens organization.
The room is silent except for the quiet thumps as food is divided into individual meals and sealed in Styrofoam containers.
Each container gets handed down a line of volunteers as it is filled with the meals served previously at the Trojan Dining Center.
Beginning with rice, mixed vegetables and chicken, the volunteers go through large tins of food until a few vegetarian meals are made and the food runs out.
“I actually work with Sodexo, so I see how much food is thrown away with just catering and it’s depressing,” said Kayla Sprayberry, a junior math and computer science major and secretary for Campus Kitchens from Ashland.
Within an hour, the crew of Campus Kitchens has assembled 217 meals — a new record. Everybody claps as they celebrate another finished week with a group picture.
“Normally we do about 120, so that’s great,” said Jonathon Cellon, coordinator of learning initiatives.
Up to 120 meals are delivered to the Troy Head Start Center every week, with any excess given to the Christian Love Center.
The stacks of meals, prepared on Thursday afternoon, will be frozen overnight and delivered Friday afternoon in coolers.
According to Cellon, additional volunteers will be ready at the Troy Head Start Center around 1:30 p.m. Friday. The meals are handed out to the children as the parents pick them up at 2 p.m.
The state poverty rate is an average of 18.6 percent, while in Pike County the poverty rate stands at 28.6 percent, according to the U.S. Census Bureau and Index Mundi.
“If it takes just one organization to lower that, then why not?” Sprayberry said of her decision to get involved.
Leebo Tyler, a junior math major from Mobile, said that he got into the organization after his involvement with civic scholars in 2012 and seeing examples of poverty in the community.
“If nobody was going to do something, we’ve got to do something,” Tyler said.
Tyler said that he enjoys seeing the progress that Campus Kitchens has made actually preparing and giving out meals in over a year.
“We have gone through a lot of red tape,” he said. “But you can see it getting bigger.”