Interview with Jillian Roberts, Social Media Specialist for Campus Kitchens Project

Jillian Roberts and her husband, both class of '08 at Dickinson.
Jillian Roberts and her husband, both class of '08 at Dickinson.

Jillian Roberts, Dickinson ’08
Social Media Specialist, Campus Kitchens Project
February 6, 2012

Where are you from originally?

Pelham, New Hampshire

Where do you live now?

I live in Arlington, Virginia, but CKP is located in Washington, DC.

Tell us a little bit about CKP and what you do there?

Campus Kitchens Project logoCKP is the national arm of DC Central Kitchen, which recycles leftover food into meals for shelters, rehabilitation clinics, and transitional homes.  Our Campus Kitchens take that model and apply it to their own communities and campuses. We have 31 Campus Kitchens right now, and we plan to open up two more this year.

I am the Social Media Specialist for CKP. I develop and execute social media strategy for our national office and our affiliates.

What motivates you to work for a service-based anti-hunger program like CKP?

Food is a basic right. Everyone should have access to a healthy meal, but for many, food insecurity is a reality. We’re working to bring food to those who need it, and that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning.

What do you see as the role of social media for organizations like CKP, local farms, or the local food movement in general?

Jillian Roberts and her father in front of the Washington Monument.
Jillian Roberts and her father in front of the Washington Monument.

Social media can be both the voice and the ears of an organization. I can use Twitter or Facebook to reach all of our affiliates, but I can also hear about what they’re doing. Sometimes I find out about a cool event that someone’s doing via Twitter, and then I can share that information to the rest of the network. I’m also looking to use social media to reach out to our alumni and bring them back into the conversation.

What was your major at Dickinson?

I majored in American Studies, and I focused on media and politics. My senior thesis was on the campaign advertisements from the 2008 Presidential Primaries.

What were several of your extracurricular activities at Dickinson?

I spent my time as a mentor for middle school students as a member of both Dream Catchers and the Dickinson Girl Scout troop. I was also involved with Dickinson College Democrats and the Dickinson Chapter of Students for Barack Obama.

What is one fun thing you’ve gotten to do through your job at CKP?

Campus Kitchens Project - high school volunteers
High school volunteers contribute to the Campus Kitchens Project. Courtesy of CKP.

I’ve only been here for a month, but I’ve already been able to learn and do a lot. Two things in particular come to mind. On my first day, I volunteered in the kitchen. I was all dressed up and not prepared for the possibility of getting food all over myself, which of course I did. I managed to explode an entire can of tomato sauce all over myself. It wasn’t mortifying, though. We all laughed it off, and it really broke the ‘first day’ tension. I spent the rest of the day preparing food for distribution, and since I really enjoy cooking, I had a great time.

I’ve also been able to help redesign CKP’s website, which will hopefully launch in March. I’ve been working to streamline everything and make the website an easy tool for everyone to use.

Describe a misconception you had about hunger/food issues/the role of colleges in ending hunger before getting involved at the CKP.

I didn’t realize the scale of CKP. In 10 years, the project has grown to 31 schools across the country. These students plan the meals, collect the food, cook it, and deliver it. They’re also responsible for fundraising, training, scheduling shifts, and paperwork. They do a lot, and that’s in addition to all of their coursework. It’s pretty amazing when you think about how much work all of the students put into CKP.

Do you have any idea what you want to do next – whether that’s five or ten years down the road?

I hope to be around here for a while!

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