Kitchens on the Geaux, a volunteer student organization devoted to bringing food to the hungry in Baton Rouge, spent Sunday morning outside in the chilly temperatures cooking breakfast under an overpass at Expressway Park.
Some of the breakfasters were jobless, some were homeless, some were with their families and some were alone, but all of them were hungry.
“Breakfast is only half of what we do — the other is socializing,” said Morgan Hurst, nutrition and food sciences sophomore. “The people are just friendly. They like to talk and laugh.”
The food for the weekly breakfast is provided every Sunday by one of two local churches that alternates each week, finance sophomore Kassidy Noto said.
“Last week after we served them, they just sort of walked off. We don’t really know where they’re going,” Noto said. “There are surprisingly a lot of people in Baton Rouge who need help.”
Kitchens on the Geaux President Scott Burke said that there are more than 12,000 homeless people in Louisiana, and about 20 percent of the state’s population is food insecure, meaning that they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
“There’s a lot of people in our own backyard that go hungry, and there’s a lot of food that gets thrown away on campus,” Burke said. “It just makes sense to me to take it and use it for those who need it.”
Last week for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, Burke built a 7-foot-tall fork, and he and other Kitchens on the Geaux volunteers stuck 12,000 white plastic forks into the Parade Ground in front of the Student Union.
Burke, who plays the guitar, said he also tried to raise awareness by submitting multiple songs with Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week-themed titles to KLSU.
“I don’t think any of them were played, but it was worth a shot,” Burke said.
Burke said he has seen national statistics which states that close to 40 percent of food in the U.S. goes to waste every day.
“So about twice the amount of food that we would need to feed everyone is thrown away,” Burke said. “People are surprised by this when I tell them.”
Burke said Kitchens on the Geaux has been collecting leftover food from Chipotle and Lod Cook Alumni Center on campus this semester, totaling 1,400 pounds of food so far.
The dining halls at LSU are contracted to a company called Chartwells, Burke said, and he has met with the regional district manager of the company multiple times to ask about using the excess food from the dining halls to feed the hungry. Burke said he was repeatedly rejected.
“We should and are able to help people,” Burke said. “We can really make a big difference.”