Global Community Kitchen allows students to prepare food for campus events

Staff members of the Global Community Kitchen prepare food for the Martin Luther King Jr. Peace Breakfast on Saturday, Jan. 24. The GCK allows student organizations to rent out the industrial kitchen in the Memorial Union to make food for campus events. Student volunteers prepare, serve and clean up the food through the GCK. 

Lauren Sluss

Student organizations no longer have to cook for their events within their own homes. With the help of OSU’s new Global Community Kitchen, students can now have access to a professional industrial-sized kitchen to complete their meals.

Formerly known as the Community & Cultural Food Program, the program is rebranding itself this term with the new name Global Community Kitchen. Located in the Memorial Union room 12, the GCK allows student organizations to rent the kitchen space in order to prepare meals for campus events. 

The GCK hosts several annual programs, including India Night, Luau and China Night. Student volunteers are in charge of the cooking, serving and cleaning up after each event. 

“The volunteers take mom and dad recipes that normally feed five or six people, and learn to feed 500 to 1000 people with the same recipes,” said David Ryusaki, program advisor for the GCK.

Although Ryusaki trains the student volunteers on how to prepare the food and clean up after meals, the students are completely in charge of the production process. 

“It’s a really unique program, and students develop the whole process,” Ryusaki said. “The volunteers develop what they want to cook, serving timeline, production schedules and clean up.” 

These requirements help students not only provide for their organizations, but also enhance their personal skills, according to Student Leadership and Involvement Associate Director Robin Ryan. 

“This program provides opportunity for students to develop various transferrable skills, to share their culture and information about their organization with the community, and to develop community through participation in planning, execution and attending these activities,” Ryan said.

Founded in the 1970s as a part of the MU food service program, the GCK transitioned to its current format under the SLI in 1995, and finally moved into the new GCK space in 2014. 

The GCK is the only program of its type throughout the nation, according to Ryan. 

“Some universities permit minor beverage service or once a year activity in their food service production kitchens, but none to our knowledge have a dedicated kitchen and program for this purpose,” Ryan said.

Having this program at OSU allows cultures on campus to be shared, according to Assistant Director of the Pride Center Cindy Konrad. 

“I have worked on other campuses where, because of safety and liability issues, students couldn’t cook and share the foods associated with their culture on campus,” Konrad said. “We are so lucky to have the kitchen because it allows us to share aspects of our culture and build community in ways that help people feel more a part of the campus community and ensure safety for all participants.”

Konrad uses the GCK each fall for the Pride Center’s welcome barbeque, as well as SOL: LGBTQ+ Multiracial Support Network’s Lemonade in the Quad event. 

“I’ve had a great experience with the Global Community Kitchen,” Konrad said. “Food draws people to an event and helps us build community. Use of the kitchen helps us stretch our student fee funding further because cooking ourselves is a lot more affordable than catering because we do the labor.”

Not only does the GCK help save student fee funding, it also provides a platform for students to create a community, Ryusaki said.  

“It’s a place for building community and meeting people who are different than yourself, while helping the group produce a successful meal,” Ryusaki said. “There’s a lot of underlying meaning that helps bring the community together.”

Creating community allows students to express their culture through cuisine as well, according to Ryan. 

“The OSU Global Community Kitchen allows students to share their cultures, traditions and food knowledge contributing and enhancing global Beaver Nation through the tastes of the world,” Ryan said. 

Ryusaki can be contacted on the GCK webpage in order to schedule an event.

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