Over 34,000 pounds of food distributed to families, students in need

Maxwell Mayleben ® Editor in Chief |

The Community Engagement Center collaborated with Second Harvest Heartland last Friday to gather student volunteers to distribute food for community members facing food insecurity.

The program is part of Second Harvest’s “COVID Food Assistance Program,” which is designed to bring food to counties across the state with the intent of helping those families and communities that are facing food insecurity due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Community members in need were encouraged to drive up in their cars to pick up three boxes of food: one filled with dairy, one with meat and one with produce.

Half of Lot 22 was taken up by two massive semi-trailers filled with boxes of food. Community members lined up in their cars, almost completely filling lot 21 S.

According to Alex Trewatha, the graduate advisor for the Community Engagement Office, they were expecting 700-750 cars to drive through the event.

In all, 34,967 pounds of food was distributed to 651 households — 268 of which were using the program for the first time. A total of 2,135 people directly benefited from the event, according to the Community Engagement Office.

“We had 25 volunteers” said Trewatha, “and we had a mix of MNSU students and various community members.”

Student volunteers are a hot commodity for events like this. Karen Anderson, the Assistant Director of Student Activities, is in charge of encouraging students to get engaged in the community.

“I really thought this would be a good fit, they’ve been cooped up so much,” says Anderson in regard to the student volunteers.

Anderson is also looked at as a campus leader in regard to food insecurity on campus, working closely with Campus Kitchen and the new Swipe Out Hunger program.

Among the student volunteers at the event were Amanda Montplaisir and Taylor Nixt.

Montplaisir and Nixt were in charge of intake and speaking with the cars to find out their needs before they got to the trucks with the food boxes.

“I think it was a really good experience,” Nixt said, “especially because these families don’t necessarily have food on their tables.”

For many of the student volunteers, including freshman Natalie Smith, coming to the event was a spur-of-the-moment idea.

“I was really last minute,” Smith said. “I just clicked the link, read about it, and thought this would be something I would like to do.”

Once the cars went through the registration, Rob Cornelius, a community member and volunteer at the event, helped another group figure out what food went with which household.

Dietary restrictions were respected by the food distributors, including religious restrictions.

 “We are pulling the bacon out of the meat boxes for people from Muslim households,” said Cornelius.

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