Date of Award

Spring 2018


Capstone - Open Access


Health and Wellness Management

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

First Advisor

Allison Higgins


Introduction: According to the USDA, 12.3% (15.6 million) of U.S. households were food insecure in 2016 due to contributing factors such as lack of food accessibility and the prevalent food waste in the U.S. An estimated 40% of food is thrown away each year and contributions to this food waste include an estimated 22 million pounds of unconsumed foods discarded in college campuses around the U.S. Programs have been developed to target this food waste epidemic while combatting Americans malnutrition. Campus Kitchens Project (CKP) is an innovative student led hunger relief program which recovers food from college campus kitchens and reallocates the nutritious foods to surrounding low income communities. Research Question: The purpose of this study was to evaluate to what extent CKP mitigated campus food waste and affected the diets of low income individuals visiting Cor Unum Meal Center in Lawrence, Ma. Methods: Participants included 66 individuals dining at Cor Unum Meal Center and 9 staff members. An initial needs assessment was provided to the staff followed by surveys given to both groups regarding the community’s diet during the time CKP was providing dinner to Cor Unum meal center. Food waste recovery was measured from October 2017 – April 2018 in pounds (lbs.) per volume and a financial analysis was done to determine the amount in dollars saved. Results: Among the 66 participants, a strong majority (76%) reported observing a nutritional impact provided by the CKP meals and 85% reported feeling very satisfied with the meals provided. The staff members of Cor Unum reported the community members to have poor to average health outcomes due to main contributors such as lack of resources, money, food markets, and shelters. From these participants, 78% observed a nutritional impact from CKP meals. During the implementation of CKP, 1533.55 lbs. of food was recovered saving $3,598. The most common food items were zucchini, summer squash, turkey, pork, and brown rice. Effectiveness of Student Led Hunger Relief Project 3 Discussion: Organizations such as CKP provide opportunities to decrease the food waste in the U.S. and the prevalence of malnutrition in surrounding low income communities. Future studies should focus on the malnutrition in food assistance programs and how hunger relief programs similar to CKP can be a part of the movement for a healthier population. Furthermore, studies should consider performing a nutritional analysis comparing the meals served at soup kitchens with the meals provided by programs such as CKP. Conclusion: Implementation of CKP at Cor Unum meal center in Lawrence, Ma was associated with an improved intake of nutritious foods and reduced food waste at Merrimack College. The observed impact shows the many possibilities colleges have in being a part of reducing the malnutrition and food waste in the U.S. as well as the opportunities such programs provide for raising awareness of the health concerns in our country.

Included in

Nutrition Commons