The Campus Cupboard and Food Distribution During the COVID-19 Pandemic
By Nick Keener
In late March, when quarantine shut down school and businesses, food sourcing for students and families became more difficult. With our resources and partnerships throughout the Twin Cities, we’ve been able to help provide dozens of families with donated produce from Mill City Farmers Market and Twin Cities Food Justice, as well as surplus essentials and groceries from the Loaves and Fishes warehouse and the North County Food Alliance on a weekly basis for the past few months of quarantine.
Our outreach starts with our students who remained on campus during quarantine with twice-weekly grocery drop off, then to students and staff living in the Twin Cities with a weekly grocery home delivery, finally out into the community with weekly produce drop-offs and collecting surplus donations, groceries, and self-care products to the neighborhood community center and food shelf, Brian Coyle, as well as The People’s Center Clinic, West Bank CDC, and Health Commons.
We’ve had to adapt and grow how certain elements of our program operate in order to stay safe on all ends. We have been committed to wearing masks, gloves, and sanitizing our hands and surfaces throughout the process. We developed an online ordering system for students on campus to use to request groceries– one we hope to continue using as classes resume and students move back onto campus. Our goal is to make healthy food safely accessible to everyone, be it at our university, in the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood, or throughout the Twin Cities.
On a personal level, I couldn’t be more thankful for the opportunity to keep busy and be able to work and help during this confusing and anxiety-inducing time. Thankfully. most of our work takes place outside so we’ve still been able to make connections with new volunteers and community members. In Campus Kitchen, we tend to think of food as a way of bringing people together and connecting with one another. I think this is more important now than ever.