MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - On this Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week, we highlight the issues that impact people right here in our region, and the groups that are here to help.
But for one group, it’s not just a week long effort. Campus Kitchen at Minnesota State University Mankato has a recipe to fight hunger year-round.
“I’ve had students who say they chew their water and ice so that it feels like they’re getting food, ” said Karen Anderson, Assistant Director of Campus Kitchen.
It's a story that sticks in the back of Karen Anderson's mind with every single scoop.
Concerns of food insecurity go beyond just one student.
“My boyfriend is living off campus for the first time in two years and is now instead of paying for his meal plan up front using his loans he now has to find that food someplace and I’m always worried that he’s not going to have a place for his next meal,” said Sophia Hoiseth, Campus Kitchen Shift Lead & MSU Student.
An issue so close to home, that has nearly two dozen student volunteers lacing up their aprons.
“Campus kitchen is actually a program that began here at MSU in 2005. The goal is to take food donated by restaurants in the area make it into meals for people facing food insecurity and that includes Campus Cupboard which is our own student food pantry," said Anderson.
Their harvest against hunger begins with a trip to places like Olive Garden, Red Lobster and Chipotle every Wednesday.
“I grab the bags, I get in my car and then I come to the restaurants and collect the food, usually it’s just an exchange of signatures and then grabbing the boxes and putting them in my car and taking them back," said Tyla Holland, an intern with Campus Kitchen.
And then it’s time to stir things up in the kitchen for a few days
From the Campus Kitchen, the food is portioned out and dished up by the end of the week, ready to serve a new purpose.
“Our food will be available from ECHO Food Shelf, The Reach, Theresa House, Salvation Army, Open Door, South Central College, Maple River, and the Campus Cupboard, ” said Anderson.
Each year the Campus Kitchen collects about 8 tons of food from the community, all in an effort to stop stomachs from growling.
“Just making sure that the people I love are being fed is such an amazing thing this is helping out with and raise awareness about because a lot of students don’t think about it or they think they’re the only person struggling with it,” said Hoiseth.
Each volunteer & each giving restaurant, all necessary ingredients in this recipe that could still use a little more.
“Most of the agencies that are distributing to us, feel like instead of re-warming it, let’s just give it to somebody who can use it-kind of thing, ” said Anderson.
Because one restaurants leftovers could be someone's only meal for today.