This summer, farmers’ markets came to the campus of the College of Holy Cross, in Worcester, Mass. The markets were a success, except dining services realized students wanted to pay with their meal plans, something they couldn’t do. Realizing there was an unmet need for students to purchase fresh produce without having to regularly visit a grocery store, dining services created the Kimball to Kitchen program this fall.
For $20 per order—paid with meal plan funds or cash—residents can choose six items from a list of 23 fresh products such as produce, bread, chicken breasts and eggs. An online form allows students to complete their order and indicate when they will it pick up from Kimball, the university’s main dining hall, during its regular weekday hours. Dining services staff then pull items from pantry stock each morning to fulfill orders. “Fruits and vegetables are a big part [of the program],” explains Kathy Egan, assistant director, wellness and promotions.
Even though the Kimball to Kitchen option is currently only open to seniors housed in on-campus apartments—about 200 students—the program receives eight to 10 orders per day. “I want students to take ownership of their food and learn to cook and shop,” explains Egan, adding that she hopes this helps students prepare for adulthood while giving them fresh food options. “It’s a good deal for students. And they don’t have to leave campus.”
In order to encourage more healthful snacking, Egan hopes to expand the program to those students who do not have kitchens in their on-campus rooms, allowing them access to fresh products when dining options are limited, rather than choosing less healthy items.