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Do You Know The Muffin Lady?

Everyone at Stout knows and loves the sweet woman who spends her Monday mornings standing outside with her little cart full of different flavored muffins, giving hungry students a free snack, an uplifting smile, and a good start to their week. We know her as the “Muffin Lady,” but I was lucky enough to sit down and get to know her as Yvonne Cox. She shared a bit about her personal life with me and a lot about what being the muffin lady is like and what it means to her, and let me just say that I was utterly intrigued by this warm-hearted woman and the things she had to say about the Stout student body.

HC: How long have you lived and worked in the in the Menomonie area?

YC: I’ve lived in Menomonie for 15 years, and I started working in campus ministry shortly after that.

HC: Where did the idea to stand outside every Monday morning and hand out free muffins to students come from?

YC: It started about 13 years ago when another campus minister and I got together and decided that we were going to do something that would change the lives of the students here, so we just sat down and brainstormed different ideas. We eventually came up with making muffins and Monday and muffins sounded well together, so we just decided that we would start a “Muffin Monday.”

HC: Who helps you make all of the muffins and what’s that process like?

YC: There are eight of us that get together about once a month and bake about 40 to 50 dozen muffins that we put in a freezer after they’re done baking. Then every Monday morning I go and warm them up so that they’re warm for the students… Or more so when I put them in the car; they’re usually cold by the time the students get to them.

HC: How do freshman or students who have not seen you before typically react to you at the beginning of the school year?

YC: They are all very shy and nervous about coming and getting muffins at first. It usually takes about three weeks for them to warm up to me and take a muffin. The first time, they will mostly just walk by pretty fast; the second time, they will start to check out the sign and stare a little more at my cart and me; and by the third time, they will come up and grab a muffin. I think it takes this long because who believes that you can just get things for free every Monday morning?

HC: How many different flavors of muffins do you make and what’s the most popular amongst the students?

YC: Blueberry is definitely the most popular; we’re always running out of those the quickest. We also do banana, pumpkin, piña colada, raspberry, apple, caramel, orange, cranberry, and so many more! We are also baking a new flavor on Wednesday that we’ve never tried before; it’s a pink lemonade muffin, so we are really excited to see how the students like it.

HC: What is your family like?

YC: I’m married with three boys. One lives in Oklahoma City, one lives in Dallas Texas, and the other lives in Germany. They’re all a far ways a way, so the students are kind of my family here. When I do campus ministry on Wednesday nights, I have a group of students that get together and we all have a big meal together, so they have become a part of my family.

HC: Are there Monday’s once in awhile where you don’t want to go and stand outside?

YC: There have been two Monday’s out of 13 years of doing “Muffin Monday” where there haven’t been muffins, and they were both this year when it was in the double-digits below zero, so it wasn’t safe. Otherwise, I’m there every single Monday from 9:30 AM to about 10:10 AM.

HC: What kind of relationship have you developed with some of the students here?

YC: They are all very special people to me. I have had students ask me things like “what do you do with a squash?” and “how do you eat it?” so then I explain how to cook it and what to put in it to make it really good. They often come to me with cooking and baking advice, which I really enjoy. I had one young man come talk to me about how he was really conflicted with choosing between two internships and asked for advice on what he should do, so we had a very long conversation that day. Another young man gave me a candle, which I thought was really sweet. Most students will just grab a muffin and walk away, so I don’t know many names, but I always recognize faces.

HC: How long do you think you’ll continue doing the Monday morning muffins and will someone take over after you?

YC: I was hoping you wouldn’t ask me that, because I’m not sure anymore. My husband is retiring this June and we’re going to be moving to Bayfield Wisconsin near Lake Superior. So, I don’t know if I will be continuing until Christmas next year or if I will be done this summer. It is a very sad subject for me, but I’m confident that someone will take over, because the church is very much behind having Muffin Monday. I’ve been training people to work it, so that they’ve had the experience of doing it and I’m hoping that’ll make them want to take over. There are about six families that have done it, so hopefully one of them will step up.

HC: What’s your favorite part about being known as the “Muffin Lady?”

YC: I think being with the students. Everyone is courteous and nice to me and it’s just so fun to have them come up and talk with me. It brings me a lot of joy. 

Jackie is currently a UW-Stout junior pursing a major in Professional Communications and Emerging Media with a concentration in Applied Journalism, working towards a career in Public Relations. Jackie is the Campus Correspondent, as well as a Feature and Campus Celebrity writer for the UW-Stout chapter. Originally from the east coast, Jackie has lived in the unfavorably cold state of Minnesota for most of her life. She enjoys blogging, music, spending time with her friends and family, cheering on her favorite MA sports teams, comedies, and simply getting up and being active. Jackie has many plans and aspirations, but has just begun her future as a writer.
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