Kelli Oelsligle
Undergraduate Coordinator for Campus Kitchen, 402.649.1803

A $2,145 contribution to Campus Kitchen from the Tri-City Storm means that 95 needy Kearney-area residents will now receive two free meals a week, instead of just one.
The Tri-City Storm raised money for the donation to the University of Nebraska at Kearney Campus Kitchen through the hockey team’s Jerseys For A Cause program. In February, the Storm sold raffle tickets to fans for a chance to win game-worn jerseys, with all proceeds from selling the raffle tickets at the six February home games going to Campus Kitchen.

“The core people who support the donations are the fans and the teams, who dig into their pockets and contribute,” said Storm President Greg Shea. “Storm Hockey and the Viaero Event Center are always looking for opportunities to collaborate with local organizations, and Campus Kitchen is an important community resource that we are happy to help. Campus Kitchen generates good will in the community, which is something our organization also tries to be engaged in.”

“Donations (to Campus Kitchen) had been down,” said Kelli Oelsligle of Tilden, Campus Kitchen undergraduate coordinator. “We have been down to providing just one meal a week. Now we can provide two.” Currently, Campus Kitchen serves clients who range in age from nine months to 98 years old.

Campus Kitchen volunteers use food donations — as well as unserved and usable food from dining halls on campus– and turn that food into healthy meals. Chartwells, the UNK food service provider, also makes an area of the kitchen available to the students for food preparation. Volunteers then deliver meals to senior citizens and low-income families.

The meals are not just dropped off. Volunteers stay to interact with, teach and learn from Campus Kitchen clients. Interaction ranges from tutoring and mentoring kids in after-school programs, to bringing nutrition education to families and single parents, to spending quality time with homebound senior citizens.

Campus Kitchen is operated by a student leadership team. Oelsligle serves as the undergraduate coordinator, and Denise Kraft of Kearney, serves as the graduate coordinator. Team members include: Claire Tolstedt of Alliance, Kyle Gibbens of Cozad, Phillip Boon of Fairmont, Zach Shultz of Grand Island and Abby Larson of Tilden. 

The Storm, along with Jerseys For A Cause sponsor Taco John’s/Spaghetti Shop, has brought in more than $7,000 this season, with all proceeds being donated to area organizations.

The UNK Campus Kitchen was initiated in 2006 as a new approach to addressing rural hunger and student leadership development. The Campus Kitchen is housed in an on-campus area of the student union.