Campus Cupboard: Fixing Food Insecurity Through Community Effort

 “The definition of food insecurity, simply stated, is not knowing where your next meal is coming from. Either you don’t have food for your next meal or money for your next meal,” shared Karen Anderson, assistant director for Community Engagement at Minnesota State University, Mankato. According to Anderson, students don’t always have access to fresh fruits and vegetables and that affects their academics.

“Helping our students have access to food matches the gut-brain connection,” she says. “If you are unable to think because your stomach is growling so much, then you’re not going to be an effective student. So, we want to make sure that those things match up.”

Food insecurity is a common dilemma in the Mankato area. Research by the Minnesota State Mankato Sociology Department indicated as many as 40 percent of university students experience food insecurity. To address this, Campus Cupboard, which is located in the lower level of Crossroads Church, at the intersection of Dillon and Maywood, is dedicated to helping students with food insecurity in the area. Campus Cupboard is open every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. for students to stop by during the school year and every Tuesday from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. over the University’s breaks.

When students visit the church, they present a student ID and then they can pack a bag of groceries and personal care items that they need to help them through the week. These items include but are not limited to canned fruits, vegetables and protein, soups, dried pasta and beans, jars of peanut butter and pasta sauces, sugar, spices, condiments, toilet paper, tissues, soap and other hygiene products to help recipients with basic needs for the week. Additionally, students can stop by any time that the church is open and receive rescued food from local restaurants to help them make it to their next meal.

Recently, the Student Government of Minnesota State Mankato proposed the idea to host a food drive competition with Winona State University the week leading up to the Harvest Bowl football game between the two schools. Between Sept. 23 and Sept. 28, students and faculty banded together to fight against food insecurity in our community while fostering some friendly competition for a good cause. In total, Minnesota State Mankato raised 2,200 items and $900 in donations for Campus Cupboard; Winona State University also raised 435 items to give back to their community.

These generous donations will go to students in need to continue the fight against food insecurity in the community. If you are experiencing food insecurity, you are not alone. Anderson encourages everyone to reach out for help when they need it.

“It’s not charity. It’s more like paying it forward,” she says. “Others will help you now. After things look up for you, maybe you can volunteer some time or drop off some food for those who need it.”

Between the work of Campus Cupboard, Karen Anderson, and the Student Government, the community continues to fight against food insecurity together through community effort, but there is always a need for continuous support. To support Campus Cupboard, click here