Campus Cupboard helps those in need get food

Buying food in college when there are other things to pay for can be difficult for students. The Campus Cupboard is available for those who need help getting the things they can’t live without: food and other essentials of life. They are located next to the Performing Arts Center and are open Tuesdays from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thursdays from 12 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. 

They recently moved from the basement of the Crossroads Campus Ministry to the main floor. Becky Menk, the cupboard coordinator, said this decision was for accessibility. 

“Not only did we move upstairs, all the slabs outside the building used to be stairs. So you had to step up to get in here,” said Menk. “We had a student in a wheelchair, and she wanted to use the facility, and the building wasn’t accessible for her.” 

The other decision to move upstairs was that the room they were using was tiny compared to its new space. They could only let three students in at a time to shop. People waited in line for two hours just to get inside. In 2019, they did 20,144 pounds of food and 1,722 visits. 

Before the move, they held a household goods drive at the beginning of the school year for international students who needed household essentials. 

“Primarily, our clientele are international students who came here with a suitcase, and they don’t have a cell phone, dishes, or towels,” said Menk. “They didn’t have anything, and they’re moving into an apartment, and they don’t have any money either because they can’t afford food because they’re paying for school.” 

One of the events they do throughout the year is Lunch For-a-Buck. This happens every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. They get food donations from groups of churches around the area who bring food in and bring a different menu each week, and it’s not just for students. 

“We have administrators that come and get food. There’s one guy from the neighborhood who comes down and gets some food,” said Menk. “It’s a suggested donation of $1, and then they get a hot meal, salad, beverages, and a dessert.” 

548 students are qualified to get food as of July 1, 2023. Menk explains how students can qualify. 

“The qualifying guidelines are set by the legislature each year. It is currently 300 percent of the federal poverty guidelines, or an annual income of less than $43,740 for a household of one,” said Menk. “That translates to an income of $841 per week. Of course, if a student is a legal dependent of their parents, the household size is considerably higher than income eligibility.” 

Menk said that being a part of Campus Cupboard has been rewarding. 

“I cannot begin to say how important it is for the kids. It’s also incredibly rewarding to be able to make their lives just a little bit easier,” said Menk. “We’ve changed lives. I had someone from Vietnam who did not have to rely on her father’s money for food because of coming here. Another guy was able to buy his wife a car to go to his chemo appointments by going here because he was able to save money.” 

Students can donate to the Campus Cupboard by calling them at 507-625-6779 or bringing donations to the church. 

“We always need cleaning supplies. We always need spices. One of the things we always need is juice,” said Menk. “A lot of kids requested ginger. It’s something we can’t order. One of the frustrating things about ordering is there’s no consistency in what’s available.”

Write to Lauren Viska at lauren.viska@mnsu.edu

Header Photo: The Campus Cupboard is a part of Crossroads Campus Ministry dedicated to providing food for MSU students who need some help during the academic year. (Nate Tilahun/The Reporter)

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.