Campus resources ready to battle food insecurity

Food insecurity is a fact of life for students on many college campuses, and Minnesota State University is no different. If you need food, there are resources on campus to help.

One such resource is the Maverick Food Pantry, which opened last winter in Carkoski Commons. Carlo Meyer, the GA at the Maverick Food Pantry, explained what the process looks like for students to receive food.

“We give food to students once a week. They can order online and we have all of our inventory online. We have non-perishable goods, perishable goods, meat, eggs, and milk, stuff like that. They [the students] can just order online if they come to the pantry and sign up,” Meyer stated. 

Besides food, the pantry has toiletry and personal care items available for students to grab. The pantry relies on donations from various sources.

“We have a number of people who donate to us,” he said. “Cub gives us a lot of food and Second Harvest also gives us a lot.” 

Meyers said more students on campus has resulted in a large increase in demand.

“It was around 30 (students) a week to start and we’re doing around 300 a week now,” he said. “We’re hoping to expand to 600 a week in the next couple of months.”

Meyers said he and other volunteers hope to end the stigma around not only the Maverick Food Pantry, but food pantries in general.

“I just want to make sure the stigma isn’t there about coming,” he said. “I want every student to be aware that they can do it. There’s no income requirement or anything to come in.”

The Maverick Food Pantry is open on Mondays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Fridays from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.

A second option for students to look at is the Campus Cupboard, located in the Lutheran Campus Ministry-Crossroads by the Performing Arts Center.

Campus Cupboard Coordinator Becky Mink said their pantry differs from others. 

“(Here) you don’t place an order and then pick it up; we let you shop yourself,” she said. “It’s a little more dignified for the clients. They get to choose exactly what they want.”

With the influx in students living on campus and attending in-person classes again, the cupboard is seeing more students walk through the doors. 

“Last year at this time we were serving 138 students. This year we are serving 310 students,” she said. “We were concerned that not enough students were taking use of the food shelf, so I went to the community events fair in the beginning of the semester and it took off from there. Once kids learned about us they started telling other people.” 

In addition to food, Campus Cupboard has offered cooking classes in the past to help show students what kinds of meals they can make out of the items they pick out. This allows students to not only learn how to cook, but also to utilize what they have in front of them to make a balanced meal.

The Campus Cupboard is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Tuesdays.

For students looking to get an extra meal during the week at the campus Dining Hall, the Swipe Out Hunger program is perfect. This program started last fall and was created to be a short-term solution for students.

Karen Anderson, Assistant Director for Community Engagement for MNSU, is one of the members behind the creation of this program, along with some students. 

“Our student body Vice President Kara Svercl was very interested in this program, and this was her Senator project,” Anderson commented.

“During that time she did the research for it and she worked with Swipe Out Hunger on the national level, she worked with Sodexo here locally, she worked with me,” she said. “She thought it was a logical next step for us to be working on this. We were already working on food insecurity in general with Campus Kitchen, so this was the next step.”

This program, although new, is gaining traction and acknowledgement from students.

“So far, we received a pool of 4,075 and we have 2,689 (swipes) remaining to distribute for the year. I think last year we launched it and people were a little scared of signing up and then suddenly the word got out amongst their friends that they were getting swipes,” Anderson noted. 

Each of these food pantries encourages students to stop by and grab any items they may need throughout the year and are working towards ending the stigma around food shelters. 

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