Student Receives Campus Kitchens National Award

Renee Ballenger

Megan Boss, a graduate student in the Department of Counseling and School Psychology, has received a prestigious national service award from The Campus Kitchens Project (CKP). For her leadership in building and maintaining the dynamic program at UNK, the Campus Kitchens organization has given Boss the national Nopalitos Staff Innovation Award.

The Nopalitos Staff Innovation Award is given quarterly to The Campus Kitchens Project staff member who shows innovation in programming, sustainability, and/or student development. The award is named after a jar of pickled cactus—Nopalitos–which was donated to the original Campus Kitchen at its very first food drive in 2001. The Nopalitos required innovation to find a use for them in the food program.

Boss has been coordinator of the UNK program since its inception. A school-based, student-powered organization that uses on-campus kitchen space, “Campus Kitchen at University of Nebraska at Kearney” (CKUNK) recovers food from cafeterias, and prepares and delivers nutritious meals to those hungry and in need in the Kearney community.

Boss is the resourceful student who has developed, and is now administering, the first student-run Campus Kitchen in the CKP network and for the UNK community, after her peer, Martin Demoret, started the CKUNK in 2006. UNK Dean of Student Life Peter Longo said,“Megan richly deserves this award for her sustained, great work with Campus Kitchens. She has done well in her graduate program and well beyond; her impact will endure for years to come.”

A spokesperson for Campus Kitchens added,“Megan forged strong student support through Facebook technology and good, old-fashioned personability!”

This is the second national award CKUNK has received. Last fall, Cody Waldman, a College of Education student, was given the CKP Student Volunteer of the Year Award.

Additionally, Jenna Rycek, a College of Natural and Social Sciences student, received a Cargill Internship through CKP. In addition to providing meals to the hungry, the CKP program also facilitates its state locations to be classrooms in which culinary skills can be taught by students to unemployed individuals.

Students learn too, about service-learning and the segment of our culture that deals firsthand with issues like poverty and sociological stereotyping. Boss’ strong client relationships have developed the CKUNK into a Culinary Job Training program, in coordination with Developmental Services of Nebraska. The Culinary Job Training program produced seven graduates this year.

With the award, the Campus Kitchens national office thanked Boss for her “outstanding local contributions” and stated that, because of Boss, “The Campus Kitchens Project has a stronger, more diverse network.”

Campus Kitchens was developed in 2001 as a national outgrowth of D.C. Central Kitchen, a successful local community kitchen model in Washington, D.C. The organization is now a leader in community service by students and resourceful anti-hunger programs on college campuses across the country.

The Campus Kitchens Project ( supports 12 Campus Kitchens across the nation that have served more than 640,000 meals and engaged more than 10,000 students. In addition, The Campus Kitchens Project Culinary Job Training program has graduated 141 adults, some of whom have succeeded in obtaining jobs in campus dining operations.