Meet Ninna Mendoza'18

This Friday, I had the opportunity to talk with the lovely Ninna Mendoza. Ninna shared with me her experience in starting and organizing Augustana’s chapter of the national organization, Campus Kitchen. Ninna is a senior from Janesville, Wisconsin, and is double majoring in Pre-Medicine and Spanish for Professional Use. She is also minoring in Public Health. Her involvement at Augustana includes: Campus Kitchen, Intervarsity Christian Fellowship, tutoring at the Reading and Writing Center, Omicron Delta Kappa honor society, and Zeta Phi Kappa sorority.

What is Campus Kitchen?

It is a chapter from a national nonprofit organization called The Campus Kitchen Project. Their main purpose is to prevent food waste, fight hunger, and build up student leaders through this organization.

How did Campus Kitchen start at Augustana?

We started a chapter at school focusing on on-campus hunger within our student population. We focused on this because we got the suggestion from Dean Campbell. Eventually, we realized that this was a bigger problem than we thought which had not been addressed. We realized that college students were not eating proper meals. They just relied on snacks, such as granola bars, throughout the day. The main reason why we decided to start Campus Kitchen was that one day, Mary Therese (co-President) and I were sitting in the CSL and saw that a lot of the fruit from Fresh Fruit Friday was going to waste, which was perfectly good food.

What is the most important lesson you have learned from your experience in this organization?

It has provided me with more confidence in my leadership abilities. I realized that when I am able to put my mind on something which I am passionate about, I can fulfill this passion by impacting other people. Definitely the group effort between Mary Therese and me allowed us to have a positive impact on others. Now, I am more aware of my surroundings and more prone to take action if anything is not right.

How would you encourage other people to participate in this initiative?

We want to educate people on the fact that a stigma exists in regards of food insecurity on college campuses. We try to take away that shame behind this stigma and bring into light the reality that many people are experiencing food insecurity. We encourage people to get involved by volunteering in order to give back to your fellow students.