For many college students, March is synonymous with Madness -- as in the NCAA basketball tournament.
But for some, it's about Matchness -- as in March Matchness, the Campus Kitchens Project's annual fundraising event. For 20 days, students from 16 schools will take to social media, flashmob, and reaching out to alumni and parents to raise enough funds to compete in their own March tournament and in turn, earn enough money to keep their Kitchen in business for six to 12 months.
March Matchness is just one example of how the Campus Kitchens Project is forging a new kind of philanthropy.
Now in its eleventh year, the Campus Kitchens Project operates on 31 campuses. Kitchens use their schools' kitchen space -- which sit unused during off-peak hours -- to prepare meals for their neighbors in need. Since 2001, CKP has engaged more than 45,000 student volunteers in recovering more than two million pounds of donated food and delivering more than one million meals to their communities.
What makes this even more impressive is that the Kitchens are 100 percent student run, from meal planning to preparation and delivery. Student volunteers look at the ingredients available to them, and they come up with their own recipe for creating a positive impact in their communities.
In addition to meals, Kitchens tend gardens, collaborate with community leaders, develop farmer's markets and provide nutrition education for kids of all ages.
Not only are these students making a difference in their communities, but they are also learning valuable and practical leadership and management skills that they will take with them when they graduate.
The young women and men who run the Campus Kitchens will not receive trophies or have brackets predicting their efforts but, like their counterparts on the court, they are an inspiration to a nation that needs them.