Hungry? You’ve got options

Jenna Peterson ® News Editor |
Photo by Prasad Pol ® Staff Photographer |

Being a college student in this day and age can be difficult, and not knowing where your next meal is coming from should not be a problem for students have to face. 

With the help of multiple resources on campus, food insecurity does not have to be an issue.

Karen Anderson, Community Engagement Assistant Director at Minnesota State University, Mankato helps numerous organizations ensure students know about resources with cheap — and sometimes even free — meals. 

She specifically works with Campus Kitchen, which began at MNSU in 2005. Their goal is to allow a safe space for people within the community to grab food without the fear of being judged and to reduce food waste throughout Mankato.

Campus Kitchen

Campus Kitchen volunteers drive around to local restaurants and campus dining halls to pick up prepared but not served, leftover food which is then repackaged for meals. 

Because so many carb-based items are picked up, the kitchen sometimes purchases beans and vegetables to create a balanced meal.

Another important aspect of Campus Kitchen is volunteering.

“We want students to become engaged citizens,” said Anderson.

It’s very easy to become a volunteer; all you have to do is sign up on the Engage page and be willing to spend time packaging meals and other volunteer activities.

Campus Kitchen has its bi-yearly farmer’s market event coming up at Crossroads Campus Ministry. This fall, the tentative date for the market is Sept. 14. In spring, it is held in the CSU, making it easy for students to access. 

At the event, students will receive a bag of free produce in order to eat balanced meals and live a healthier lifestyle. The bags also include flyers for other organizations that provide food, and information about volunteering as well.

“We encourage the students to think critically about food sources,” said Anderson.

If students need a meal throughout the week, they can pick one up at Campus Kitchen. Their Facebook page has more information including service hours.

Swipe Out Hunger

Another operation taking place on campus is Swipe Out Hunger. This is looked at as a short-term fix, where campus food service provider Sodexo will donate two meals for every full meal plan purchased. Although the numbers aren’t complete yet, Student Senate Speaker Kara Svercl predicts there will be between 4,000-5,000 meals donated. 

Students can apply for this program by visiting Sodexo’s website and filling out a form. There will be no financial questions asked while filling out the form.

“If you need the food we want to make sure you have it,” Svercl ensured.

Once approved, meals will go directly to your card and you can swipe it as normal.

When talking about food insecurity as a whole, Svercl expressed concern with how society perceives it.

“Food insecurity among college students is really normalized,” said Svercl. “We take this expectation of college students only eating ramen noodles because it’s the only thing they can afford, and we don’t want this to be normal.”

Campus Cupboard

In order to tackle food insecurity, there is a plan in progress. 

While there is the Campus Cupboard available for students, this service is off-campus at Crossroads Campus Ministry and not available for all students. The University is working on creating a food shelf to help provide food for all students as well as a long-term solution to the problem.

Header photo: Karen Anderson packs food in the Campus Cupboard Sept. 2, 2020 at the Crossroads Campus Ministry in Mankato, Minn. (Prasad Pol/ MSU Reporter)

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