Feed Your Brain Banquet

On Tuesday, February 18th, I went to the Feed Your Brain Banquet that was hosted on campus. The event was put together to celebrate the accomplishments of the Feed Your Brain class and student org here at Hamline. The event was a dinner catered by the Afro Deli and was a conversation and presentation about the progress of the program. For folks that don’t know a lot about what this is about, let me tell you a little bit about the Feed Your Brain campaign. 

The Feed Your Brain campaign is a movement to eliminate food insecurity among Hamline students. They first started by doing research, and this resulted in the discovery that many students at Hamline and other colleges consistently run into issues with not being able to afford food, or access food that was appropriate for their allergies, dietary restrictions or religious practices. They surveyed different groups of students, but ended up with similar stories across the process. These experiences ranged from discussing stretching paychecks to cover groceries, the prevalence of unhealthy, cheap food  in their diet and some even sharing they don’t eat for prolonged amounts of time simply because they don’t have the food they need. In their presentation, the numbers were stunning. The one statistic that stood out to me was the fact that over a million college students are eligible to receive help from SNAP, or the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, but only 3% actually claim it. This information is groundbreaking, highlighting how past assumptions of all college students being from an affluent, mostly white background is quickly changing. 

There are many things the program is doing to try to combat these issues, including community gardens, an on campus food shelf and continued work with dining services. The community garden is in the backyard of the Hamline Church and will most likely expand in the future. These spaces will hopefully help students get access to fresh produce, which can be extremely expensive. The on campus food shelf is the major project taken on by the program. It is in the Walker Fieldhouse, and aims to be a place where a student can pick up as much food as they need, as often as they need, with no questions asked. The ability for this resource to be for everyone and not based on one’s need allows for more regular use in order to normalize the idea of using resources like this. The other thing that this group has tried to do is have continued conversations with dining services to provide food that is appropriate for multiple religions and cultural practices. Having food with less meat, pork specifically, and more meals with fresh ingredients can help add variety in diets of people from all backgrounds. Also, finding ways for commuters and people without a meal plan to get more meals from the cafeteria is a continued project. 

Overall, this was a wonderful event to celebrate great work being done by Hamline students and faculty. I would highly recommend checking out the org and supporting their mission. A link is provided below with a list of food shelves and resources in our community. Feel free to share this resource with anyone you know who could benefit!