Two University of St. Thomas students put in work for Loaves & Fishes this summer, a common sight each term – fall, J-Term, spring and summer- going back 28 years.
The “Business Through Learning Service” course offered at St. Thomas pairs students up with nonprofits and has contributed hours of service to Loaves & Fishes. This summer, Tristan Fjelstad and Zac Ban each put in 40 hours of work, respectively.
Tristan Fjelstad had heard about Loaves & Fishes growing up and used a class opportunity this summer to jump in and volunteer at multiple locations.
“It challenged me to expand my social capabilities as well. That is exactly why I chose to volunteer at the various locations, to grow as an individual,” Fjelstad said.
While he knew that nonprofits did vital work in communities, it was a firsthand experience while volunteering that shaped Fjelstad’s perspective even further. He met another volunteer who shared a personal reason for giving back through Loaves & Fishes.
“She told me that when she was younger, her family had to come to organizations like Loaves & Fishes because they couldn’t afford healthy meals on their own,” Fjelstad explained. “Since then, they are in a better situation and she stressed how important work like this really is. She mentioned that her and her family volunteer together several times throughout the year. It was special to hear from someone who can speak for both sides of it.”
Ban had known about Loaves & Fishes as multiple members of his family have also volunteered. He split up his 40 hours between work in the warehouse and at a community meal site.
“In the warehouse, I took inventory and helped take in and send out food to many different organizations,” Ban explained. “From that experience I was able to take away just how large of an operation feeding our community was. The other half of my experience was spent at a Loaves & Fishes site preparing and handing out meals. I had exposure to the people in the community who rely on the food we make, and to the many awesome volunteers that I was able to have great conversations with.”
Ban said his favorite part was learning how to drive the automatic jack in the warehouse, but that’s not the only reason he would recommend the volunteer opportunity to future students entering the “Business Through Learning Service” course.
“I saw firsthand the amount of people who rely on organizations like Loaves & Fishes for food,” Ban said. “It is extremely important that we continue to support the community in this way. The need for it is definitely there.”