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.
Augsburg’s commitment to community service and engagement is long-standing and deeply held. Since 1992, day undergraduate students have participated in service projects on City Engagement Day, even before they’ve had their first class. The COVID-19 pandemic requires us to press pause on City Engagement Day this year, but our commitment to community building is unwavering. Instead of sending hundreds of incoming students out to serve Minneapolis neighborhoods and organizations, we are encouraging students, faculty, and staff to engage with their local communities in ways that are meaningful to them personally.
For those looking for local options for engagement, Sabo Center staff members have compiled this list of local opportunities for community service. We will update this document as we learn of new opportunities, and we have not vetted every one, so take care in considering COVID-19 safety practices, the organization’s capacity to host groups, and other key questions.
Though school has been rather quiet since shut down in march, the Environmental Stewardship Coordinators has been busy this summer taking action that will direct sustainability related goals in the fall… and beyond.
For readers who are not familiar, the Environmental Stewardship Coordinators is a small group of interns whose goal is to promote a campus culture of sustainability, in partnership with the Environmental Action Committee and Environmental Stewardship Committee. The sustainability model at Augsburg encompasses personal wellness, social systems, natural environment, and economics so there is a wide possibility of action steps and angles to approach work from. This summer the group has been focusing on institutional commitments, community outreach, and student organizing. Here is a short summary of current projects and future planning.
Augsburg became a charter signatory to the Second Nature Presidents’ Climate Commitment in 2007. This means that we are committed to taking climate action as a university. For us, this action looks like a climate action plan (CAP). The goal of a CAP is to lay out specific goals to help mitigate climate change and reduce greenhouse gas emissions. This is a daunting task that requires time and input from our community. The previous CAP was called “Green By 2019” which has groundbreaking initiatives but fell short in completion which is why it is so important to rewrite and shift our energy towards new goals.
Connecting to our community is extremely valuable to our students… and our university. The Sabo Center, Campus Kitchen, and the Environmental Stewardship Coordinators are working on crafting a campaign that will help students see the importance of supporting local businesses and shifting personal purchasing habits as well as looking at how the university supports the community. This summer there has also been food/supply drives which provided a list of donation items that had sustainability sourced options to help shift personal purchasing towards more ethical options.
Having a platform for our students to be engaged within sustainability is important to us! We are working on completing more social media posts for how you can be involved around campus, modeling specific handouts for first year students, co-creating a food justice class for 2 credits, and planning ahead for how we can stay connected even if we can’t be in person. We even reached out to alumni of the university to ask them to share their insights on sustainability to make an interview series. This plethora of knowledge would help us create a roadmap for sustainability at Augsburg.
As one of the ESC members, I would say this summer work has been uplifting. In such troubling times it is good to be reminded of what Augsburg is about and why I want to continue to go to education here. Sometimes some of these projects seem bigger than me or very out of reach… but that is the exciting part! In our current times we are called to make systemic changes, we need to go farther than we have ever gone before to ensure sustainability- because that means social justice, environmental care, community wellness and economic prosperity. The time is NOW to make change and being a part of this group I feel like we are making meaningful change and paving a way to get there.
This entry is from Chouneng Khang, a Campus Kitchen student employee. If you would like to support Campus Kitchen’s work, feel free to donate through Augsburg’s donation page. You can designate your donation to Other>Campus Kitchen.
Nyob Zoo and hello! My name is Chouneng Khang. I go by the pronouns He/Him/His and I am a Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies Major with a Communications Minor. Today’s topic is my experience working with Campus Kitchen.
I’ve spent two years so far working with Campus Kitchen, and during that time I have learned quite a bit– especially about stepping out of my comfort zone and about the Cedar Riverside neighborhood. I’ve also learned about the different communities and groups around and within the Cedar- Riverside neighborhood, such as the Soup-For-You Program that hosts free lunches for anyone. They even provide clothing donations for people who need clothes.
I’ve always been a bubbly, talkative person who likes to ramble on and on about things. However, when I started working with Campus Kitchen during my first year of college, all that bubbly, talkative energy had gone away. I had to build it back up. That’s where my involvement in Campus Kitchen comes in. Through my work with Campus Kitchen, I was serving meals in the neighborhood, helping run the Campus Cupboard, and hosting my own open cooking hours in the Food Lab. All of these activities required me to talk to people and build rapport, because we want the people that frequent these activities to return week after week and feel comfortable.
Brian Coyle is a community center within the Cedar Riverside neighborhood that offers many programs for youth. They teach teens how to use different technologies, such as sewing machines, computers, cameras, printers, and more, help with homework, provide a safe space to hang out, helps prepare them for post high-school education, etc. Through my job with Campus Kitchen, I bring dinner to Brian Coyle a couple of times each week.
You might be wondering, how does this relate to helping me build up my bubbly, talkative energy? Well, part of the dinner delivery shift is that we would sit down with the community center members who attend and share a meal with them, which of course, means that we engage in conversation and build relationships. At first, I was overwhelmed and afraid to speak because I no longer had the courage to. However, most of those who attend our CK dinner deliveries are energetic teenagers who want to broaden their experiences with different people and have many connections. So it really wasn’t that hard for me to start speaking when one of the teenagers asked about my ethnicity and if I could help them learn my native language. Through experiences like this, Campus Kitchen has not only provided me with a steady income as a college student, but has also helped me gain new skills.
Ever since the shiny new Hagfors Center opened in 2018, the Old Science building at Augsburg University has been quiet and empty. This turned out to be good news for Campus Kitchen’s Campus Cupboard, which was previously tucked away in a tiny closet in Foss.
A few students from Campus Kitchen and the Environmental Stewardship Committee sought out approval to turn one of the classrooms in the Old Science building into the new Campus Cupboard food shelf and Share Shop. The space has been transformed. Now, the Cupboard is much closer and more accessible to the students living in the residence halls. But, it is still in a remote location to accommodate for those who want privacy and do not feel comfortable utilizing the Cupboard. It also offers a more spacious environment for the Cupboard to grow and change.
In just one year, The Campus Cupboard and ShareShop have become spaces on campus we are proud of. With couches, string lights, and welcoming smiles at the front desk – it was definitely the upgrade the Cupboard needed. The Shareshop is a place where students can rent or buy items that they may not have space for or will only use once during the semester. Students can even do a test trial on certain items–appliances, utensils, skis, sleeping bags–to see if they will utilize them every day. Having resources like this can lighten the financial burden students may face while also enabling sustainability through sharing.
Overall, the Campus Cupboard has been able to provide nearly 7,000 pounds of food to students since moving to the old science building from October 2019-April 2020. During that time, Campus Cupboard served 438 unique individuals. Before the Cupboard moved there, Science Hall 8 had not seen activity in over a year. Now, students have a new reason to visit the space.
Hunger does not discriminate, and utilizing a food shelf shouldn’t either. The Campus Cupboard is accessible to a wide range of people regardless of race, gender, ethnicity, income, etc. Whether you’re a religion major or chemistry major or athlete or artist, we are all hungry students. Before we can be hungry for knowledge, we must take care of the hunger in our stomachs. Since moving to Science Hall 8, the Campus Cupboard has done just that.
This week, Augsburg was celebrated as one of the inaugural recipients of the Richard Guarasci Award for Institutional Transformation from Campus Compact. The award recognizes outstanding work in pursuit of the public purposes of higher education. Learn more at compact.org/impact-award-2020-recipients/
The Augsburg community is grateful for our custodial workers and the critical role they play in keeping our campus safe. Especially in this difficult time, we thank you for the care you put into your work.
To Our Custodial Staff: The Augsburg community is SO grateful for every one of you!
Augsburg’s students see you and appreciate you:
Toby Reinsma, Student:
I would like to take this time to shout out Walid for his work in the cafeteria. He always greets me every morning with a smile, and I appreciate our conversations in the morning.
Reiss Williams, Student: As a student that was helping run the Share Shop/Campus Cupboard, I am SO grateful to the custodial team for helping keep our space clean. Thank you for everything you do and all your hard work!
Stephanie, Student: There was a custodian in the music building that always cleaned up the hallways in the morning. In the fall semester I would get up to practice and he would be there cleaning up. I remember asking for his name, but I don’t remember what it is now, maybe Jeff, but anyways I always appreciated having a cleaning music building!
Jasmine, Student: I appreciate each and everyone of you for always being kind and positive when we interact. I know cleaning after so many students can be hard but y’all’s dedication truly deserves all the recognition in the world!
Yamile Hernandez, Student: Thank you to our custodial team, for looking out for us. Not only now but all year! Thanks to the custodial team I have been able to move into a clean apartment.
Ed Loubaki, Student: We are very fortunate to have a team who works with care and patience to represent the Augsburg image. The Campus Kitchen team is humbled and grateful for your stewardship in keeping Augsburg spotless. We appreciate you and your work very much, Thank you.
Emma Scherrer, Student: I really appreciate how the sidewalks were always cleared so nicely after it snowed. I never had to worry about having to walk through snow on the sidewalks. It always amazed me how diligently the sidewalks were cleared and the quality of the extent of how much they were cleared. Thank you so much!
Kelton Holsen, Student: Hey! Y’all are great, especially John. The work that you do is incredibly important and often unappreciated. During this time, you, and the many essential student workers, are what’s keeping the school afloat. As such, I strongly urge you to consider unionization and other methods to get the school to increase your pay and address the potential safety concerns associated with having you keep working. I believe that the student body would support you in such an effort. Keep up the good work.
Zinnia, Student: Thank you for working extra hard during this pandemic (even though obviously I wish you didn’t have to)! every morning I wake up to someone playing music while disinfecting the bathroom and it’s sweet especially during this time where nothing else feels real. I’d be doing the same thing at work 🙂
Anonymous Student: The custodial staff at Augsburg has been one of the nicest groups of people that I’ve come to meet. They’re always willing to listen about what you have to say and share what they have to say back. They’re also very caring members of the campus community and want what’s best for the students and staff. An example of this, was the week before Spring Break I was running the Campus Cupboard when one of the custodial members came in and told me to stay safe and take care of my health during this pandemic. Having never actually had a whole conversation with a custodial staff, that first conversation that I had was really heartwarming and showed me that they care for our well-being and want the best for us.
Alex Pruitt, Student:
I want to say thank you to all the custodial staff members for dedicating their time in helping keep the school clean & safe from germs & bacteria everyday. I know in times like this especially it may be harder to have the want to be at work but you chose to stay & help & that means more than words could ever describe thank you!
Ani, Student: Thank you very much for keeping the campus clean during this pandemic!
Anonymous: Thank you Aunties and Uncles. We Love you!
Brittani, Graduate Student: Thank you for keeping our campus clean and inviting!
Augsburg’s faculty and staff see you and appreciate you:
Sarah Degner Riveros, Professor: We are so grateful for the work that you do to make Augsburg a wonderful place. Thank you for care-giving for all of us, for making the space that we work and live safe, healthy, clean, and pleasant. You and your families are in our prayers. We miss you and look forward to being back on campus again soon. With love and gratitude, Sarah
Christina Erickson, Professor: Thank you for all of your hard work! You are also THE MOST FRIENDLY department on campus! All the custodians greet me with kindness and help at a moment’s notice. When my office flooded last summer I quickly had a custodian right by my side to help me empty my water-filled trash can, take items out of the office and suggest ideas for what to do next. I can’t remember the names of everyone I have met, but over the years your care and commitment to our organization have been very real. Thank you. I appreciate your hard work and the many ways we feel good about our work because of YOU!
John, Staff Member: Thanks so much for all you do!
Anonymous Staff Member:
THANK YOU to all the custodial staff who work so diligently to keep our campus well-kept and safe. Your efforts are always appreciated, and even more so during these uncertain times – you have stepped up to faithfully serve the Augsburg community.
Shonna Fulford, Associate Director of Admissions:
I can not say thank you enough to our custodial staff for all they do; during this pandemic but also before. They all go above and beyond to make sure we are taken care of, our spaces are clean, and they always have a friendly smile to share. Those of us in admissions are fortunate enough to be able to work from the safety of our homes, while custodians are serving at the front lines, keeping our campus and community safe and healthy. They are the heroes battling at the front lines and we are grateful for their service, and honored they are Auggies! Thank you for all you do!
Emma Bloom, Staff Member: Thank you for keeping our campus clean and safe! Aster, the Anderson Hall custodian brightens my morning every day as I walk through and we exchange cheerful hellos. Sharmaine and Ozkar are amazing too! Thank you to the whole team for working so hard to keep us safe and for being bright cheery faces at the same time.
Natalie Jacobson, Campus Kitchen Coordinator: Thank you so much to every member of the Augsburg Custodial team for the hard work you do, always, and especially now. Special shout out to Eleni, one of the most kind, warm, bright people I know. It makes my day whenever I see you around campus! Thank you to Eleni and every member of the Custodial team.
Karen Kaivola, Provost: I am so pleased to add an expression of my gratitude to this project. A highlight in recent years has been the annual custodian appreciation event that students organize in the Spring. We can’t gather in the same way this year, so I’m delighted to participate in this project. Thank you for all you do – both in ordinary times and in the extraordinary moment that is now!
Michelle McAteer Head Women’s Hockey Coach: THANK YOU for all your hard work, sacrifice and commitment to Augsburg!
Patrick Connelly, MSW Intern in the Sabo Center: You all are amazing! You are on the front lines of keeping everyone safe and healthy from a deadly pandemic and I so appreciate your work. Eleni, your cheer and smile in the Sabo Center is so valued and needed! Miss seeing you!
Russell Kleckley, Religion Professor: We miss being on campus with you, but even from a distance, appreciate more than we can all that you do to contribute to our work and wellbeing. Please be safe and well until we all can be back together again.
Judi Green, Exec. Asst. to the Provost: Thank you Sharmaine and custodial staff for the hard work you are doing to make sure our campus is safe for students during this time!! I look forward to seeing you on campus when we get to that point! Stay safe!!
Stephen Jendraszak, Staff Member: Thanks so much for everything you’re doing to keep our community and students healthy and safe. Your work is amazing and so appreciated always, but in a special way right now!
Keith Bateman, Staff Member: Thank you for your dedication to the institution, its students, faculty, and staff. I am constantly motivated by your work ethic and the pride you take in your job. The impact you make is not only felt by those on campus, it makes a huge impression on those visiting campus. Your good work impacts the institution in more ways than you may know. Thank you all!
Sarah Griesse, Staff: I have deep gratitude for the work you are doing. Every day I hope and pray that you are healthy and safe along with your families. Thank you for all you are doing!!!
Allyson Green, Chief Sustainability Officer: You all help Augsburg live out it’s sustainability values in so many ways: from dealing with the compost bags that we don’t always fill correctly, to finding things left by students at the end of the year and wondering if students can use them before throwing them away, to growing amazing things in the garden. I also appreciate your willingness to take time out of your extremely busy days to stop and talk and build community. Thanks for everything you do and for working extra hard right now!
Helen Gutierrez, Staff Member: Honestly shout out to Sharmaine Murphy and her team! She is an amazing human being who is always trying to make sure to meet the needs of our community. It’s hard because sometimes we have very last minute cleaning requests or quick room turnarounds that need to happen but Sharmaine and her team always figure it out! Thank you all so much for all of your hard work and presence in our campus. You are truly our front lines and we wouldn’t be able to be on campus without you!
Anonymous Staff Member: I want to say THANK YOU to all of our custodial staff for all of your hard work. You are the members of our community who are on the front line of this pandemic and I know that is coming at a great risk of your health and the health of your family members. I know our thanks is nowhere near enough of what you deserve, but I hope you know your work and sacrifice is not going unnoticed. I see you and your hard work. Thank you for keeping our community safe, and may God keep you and your families safe. Amesegnalew!
Because of the stay at home order to prevent the spread of COVID-19, student employees of the Sabo Center are writing about the work they do. This entry is from Ed Loubaki. If you would like to support Campus Kitchen’s work, feel free to donate through Augsburg’s donation page. You can designate your donation to Other>Campus Kitchen.
Hello, my name is Ed Loubaki, my pronouns are she/her/ hers. I am a first-year student and I work with the Campus Kitchen in the Sabo Center. Through Campus Kitchen, we work to provide food that is healthy and accessible. The Campus Cupboard food shelf is open every weekday, and it’s relieving for many Augsburg students that there’s a place on campus to access free food. Augsburg is quite fortunate to have Campus Kitchen because its students and surrounding comm
unity get to enjoy meals and fresh produce together. As a Campus Kitchen student employee, I love that we work to reduce food waste on campus and address food insecurity in our community. Campus Kitchen at Augsburg works hard to not only care for Augsburg, but also for the surrounding community at Ebenezer Tower Apartments, Trinity Lutheran Congregation, and the Brian Coyle Community Center.
My experience at Ebenezer Tower and the Brian Coyle Center has been beyond amazing. It did not take long to bond with community members. Every meal shift brings me joy. Each meal spices up the conversations, and sometimes it’s hard to leave. Hearing laughter here and there makes the job extra fun. At Ebenezer, I get to hear stories that soothe me and help me make better decisions in the future. These seniors are like the grandparents I never had; they make me feel like their own. Brian Coyle, on the other hand, has this energy that is incredible. You just can’t turn from it. At times, my urge to do work with Campus Kitchen increases because it doesn’t even feel like work – it feels like a great meal with friends and family. I’m looking forward to the time when we can gather again in-person to enjoy food and conversation together.
Harry Boyte, co-director of the Public Work Academy and Senior Scholar in Public Work Philosophy at the Sabo Center, will deliver a sermon this Sunday titled “Nonviolence – A wellspring of hope in a world in flames.” January worship at Prospect Park United Methodist Church explores the disciplines and possibilities of nonviolence, both from an historic perspective and as they intersect with us individually and collectively. This series is inspired by the insights of Mahatma Gandhi and the nonviolence of the Indian independence movement.
Nonviolence – A wellspring of hope in a world in flames
Prospect Park United Methodist Church
January 12, 2020, 10:00 a.m.
Prospect Park UMC is located at 22 Orlin Ave. SE in Minneapolis, one block south of University Ave. on Malcolm Ave., near the Prospect Park Green Line light rail station. Sunday worship begins each week at 10:00 a.m., with coffee and conversation before and after the service. Parking is available both on-street and at Pratt Community School, immediately adjacent to the church. For more information, call 612-378-2380, visit www.prospectparkchurch.org.
The Sabo Center is proud to co-sponsor this benefit, please join us.
The Cedar Cultural Center, Augsburg University, and KFAI present:
630 CEDAR AVE FIRE BENEFIT with Thunder Band, Brass Messengers, Becky Kapell and The Fat 6, Jack Klatt, Amjet Kemet, Tatum and Tessa, Ray Barnard & Clark Adams, and more
Saturday, January 11th, 2020 / Doors 7:00pm / Show 7:30pm
$10, $20, $30, $40, or $50
This is a standing show with an open floor. The Cedar always reserves a section of seats for patrons who require special seating accommodations. To request seating or other access accommodations, please go to their Access page.
Proceeds donated to 630 Cedar Fire Relief Committee. No one will be turned away due to lack of funds.
Can’t make it to the concert? You can still make a donation to support the families affected by the fire, here.