When Hunger Strikes
Tucked away in the kitchen at Carondelet Center is a pantry largely filled with canned food and other non-perishable items, such as dried beans, pasta and cereal. The building’s owners, the Sisters of St. Joseph of Carondelet (CSJ), however, don’t use it to feed themselves. Instead, they welcome Katies who may face bare cupboards and empty fridges.
The St. Catherine University/Sisters of St. Joseph Food Shelf was formed as a pilot project earlier this year. Most items were purchased from The Food Group, a Minnesota-based nonprofit food bank, with funding by Campus Ministry and multiple student advisory groups.
“We were open only three days, but the number of visitors grew as word got out,” says Joshua Haringa, faculty advisor for St. Kate’s Food Justice Coalition. “We ended up distributing 779 pounds of food to 31 students.” Haringa oversees the food shelf with CSJ Celeste’s Dream co-director Jennifer Tacheny, St. Kate’s librarian Amy Mars and humanities coordinator Anh-Hoa Ngyuen. According to the College and University Food Bank Alliance, the lack of reliable access to affordable, nutritious food is actually quite common at two-year and four-year institutions. In 2016, the group surveyed 3,765 students across 12 states and found that close to 50 percent faced challenges covering food and other living costs.
“I experienced food insecurity for a time when I was an undergraduate,” says Mars. “I can relate to the financial stress that students have to deal with and how that can make it hard to focus in the classroom. I definitely would have appreciated the relief that a food shelf can provide. I’m glad we have a chance to offer that option to St. Kate’s students.”
The St. Kate’s/CSJ food shelf is open on the first and third Wednesdays from noon to 4 p.m. this semester. Visitors in need are allowed to fill one grocery bag, or two if shopping for a family. Fresh fruit and vegetables are now available as well, thanks to a partnership with BrightSide Produce.