According to LeadMN, an organization of Minnesota collegiate students connecting for change, 37% of college students have experienced food insecurity. That means they do not have a steady source of food or cannot afford to feed themselves or their families.
Augsburg Campus Kitchen is taking that head on while also supporting the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood but are challenged with a small budget. Despite this they are still handing out 800-1,000 pounds of food a week to support hundreds of students and community members.
Campus Kitchen Coordinator Natalie Jacobson said that would not be possible if they had not joined the Loaves & Fishes HUB program in 2019.
“It’s made a huge difference for us,” said Natalie. “Being able to access so much inexpensive food makes a major impact.”
While Natalie is the full-time staff member in charge of the program, the campus kitchen runs heavily on a student workforce. Students like Pa Her and Tenzin Rabga place orders at the Loaves & Fishes warehouse and stop by twice a week with the campus kitchen van. They drop one load off at the Brian Coyle Neighborhood Center and another load off at their Campus Cupboard Food Shelf. Students can stop by the Campus Cupboard and Pa told us it really helps those who are living on campus.
“Students have said to me that these are their meals for the entire week because they have transportation or financial issues,” said Pa.
Tenzin looked at a small carton of berries at the warehouse and reflected on how it would cost him $4 or $5 at the store.
“Most college students are not going to spend or can’t spend that much for fruit,” he said.
Helping fellow college students is rewarding for Pa and Tenzin, but they also love to see the difference they are making in the surrounding neighborhood. Recently, Pa put together fruit skewers that were handed out to families with children at a nearby splashpad. Another part of the program supplies elderly members nearby with fresh food.
“They grab ingredients from us that they put together into a full course meal. I think to myself how that will be their dinner all week,” said Tenzin.
Augsburg Campus Kitchen’s mission aligns closely with ours at Loaves & Fishes. They also rescue food from the cafeteria on campus and put it to good use.
“Our whole goal is to eliminate food waste,” explained Pa. “We take that and bring it to other partners of ours and we will even pack it, freeze it and bring it to Loaves & Fishes so anybody can stop by the warehouse and put it to good use.”
On a recent Monday Augsburg Campus Kitchen packed 572 pounds of fresh food into their van. They said between the students still on campus for the summer and the neighborhood members who count on the campus kitchen, that the food would be gone in two days.
“We wouldn’t be able to do most of the work we do without this partnership,” said Natalie. “Loaves & Fishes truly goes above and beyond to take care of us.”
So what is the HUB? Learn more about our award-winning program that enables partnering nonprofits and community meal groups to source food affordably by leveraging our infrastructure and food inventory – all for significant (up to 80%) cost savings in their food budget.