A Blog by International Students at Leiden University

Students vs food waste: the Conscious Kitchen initiative

There could be no better follow-up to the climate strikes of these months than to go out and eat delicious and sustainable food, especially if cooked by fellow students.

I have come to know the Conscious Kitchen initiative during my first semester, thanks to the Humanities Buddy Programme. However, lately I decided to look more into what they do, both in Leiden and in The Hague.

The issue on the table: Food Waste


A small part of the food collected at the Market in Leiden during a volunteer shift

Even if we never think about it, food waste is a huge problem. Not only it proves that we are actually producing more than what we eat, but also wasted food is one of the major contributors to CO2 emissions. Tackling food waste is the aim of a lot of initiatives, like TooGoodtoGo, the app that will tell you where you can buy food that is going to expire. The Conscious Kitchen is however very different from many others, as it involves students and the local community in a very concrete and direct way.

 The Conscious Kitchen initiative


The Humanities Buddy Programme at Conscious Kitchen


The conscious kitchen initiative takes place in The Hague and in Leiden. It is built on volunteers that go to the main market of the city to ask vendors if they can donate food that would otherwise be thrown away. The food collected is cooked the following day (always by volunteers) for anyone to enjoy! In the Hague, Conscious Kitchen dinners take place every Thursday while in Leiden every other week on Sundays. In order to pay for other costs that come along with the service, you will be asked at the entrance to give a voluntary contribution (usually people donate around 5 euros).  People interested can sign up through their Facebook pages and there is always the possibility to sign up as volunteers as well! I have personally been in the Hague’s CK twice and I have volunteered in one food-collecting and one dish-washing shift here in Leiden and I can tell you: it’s tiring, but it’s a lot of fun! The volunteers are really dedicated and so great in including you in the group. Also, after the food collection, I can definitely assure you that you won’t need to go weight-lifting to the gym that day.


The Conscious Kitchen in the Hague

Reasons why I totally recommend the Conscious Kitchen dinners

Of course, choosing to have a Conscious Kitchen dinner is an amazing thing to do for the environment but there are other qualities in this project that make it even more awesome


A Conscious Kitchen recipe – Have you ever tried home-made hummus?

  1. It’s healthy – Everything that the volunteers cook is vegan or vegetarian and, as it comes directly from the market, it has not been frozen or processed.
  2. You can bring home your own veggies! – as the aim of the initiative is to reduce food waste, you can bring home for free all the vegetables and fruits that were not used to prepare the dinner. This alone pays back for whatever offer you gave at the entrance as you can take the number of greens that you want, and they will usually last for at least another week.
  3. The atmosphere is great – Even if you are not part of the volunteers, the Conscious Kitchen is really a collective experience. You will be welcomed warmly and you will feel part of the initiative. For example, each guest will wash their dish after they have finished eating. Also, sometimes organizations are invited to speak about sustainability-related initiatives. In general, is really a friendly space to exchange thoughts and opinions and to meet new people.
  4. It’s creative – volunteers don’t know what they are going to cook as they can’t choose the ingredients that they will get from the market. This makes the experience very funny as sometimes they have to come up with good recipes with weird ingredients… but I can assure you, every time I went there it was surprisingly delicious.

Have I convinced you to try a Conscious Kitchen dinner? Have you ever been there? If you want more information visit their website or their Facebook pages, or ask  in the comments below!

5 comments on “Students vs food waste: the Conscious Kitchen initiative

  1. Daniel Salinas
    March 28, 2019

    This sounds great! I definitely will try to go to one of their dinners here in Leiden!

    • Sara Bettinelli
      April 1, 2019

      Please do! it is really a great experience! But, piece of advice, sign up fast as the places get filled up quite quickly!

  2. Sophie Jorgensen-Rideout
    March 30, 2019

    I hadn’t heard about this, but it sounds amazing 😀 And the hummus looks delicious 😊

    • Sara Bettinelli
      April 1, 2019

      Thank you for your comment! it is indeed really cool (: Also, they sometimes organize cooking workshops with the Green Office (as it was the case for the hummus)

      • Sophie Jorgensen-Rideout
        April 1, 2019

        Ohh that’s brilliant!

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