WILLMAR and HUTCHINSON, MN – Not knowing where your next meal might come from can be stressful, scary, and humbling. It also makes it difficult for students to focus on studies, goals and dreams.
“For years, we have known that there were Ridgewater students suffering from food insecurity,” explained Trevor Johnson, Ridgewater biology instructor, Willmar campus. Employees would remind students about meals available at Campus Ministries across the street from Ridgewater’s Willmar campus or employees on both campuses would refer students to the Kandiyohi, McLeod or Meeker county food shelves. “But we had to do more,” Johnson added.
The Ridgewater Foundation joined forces with employees to help launch two on-campus food pantries in 2019, one
in the Willmar Fine Arts building room 103 next to the fitness center and one outside Hutchinson campus room 153.
Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society students were also instrumental in creating the college resource in Hutchinson.
Interested students on the Willmar campus can visit its Food Pantry for a pre-packaged bag of items any time Mondays through Wednesdays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 noon.
Hutchinson campus students can visit its Food Pantry as needed, taking when they need and leaving food for others when they can.
“The college community has been very supportive in keeping the food pantry full,” explained Jill Rezac, English/communications/economics instructor, as well as Hutchinson campus PTK advisor. “We are now reaching out to the local community for support.”
Most needed items include:
– Cereal/oatmeal – Canned fruit/fruit cups
– Breakfast bars – Apple sauce
– Snacks/snack bars – Fresh fruit
– Peanut butter – Jelly
– Rice/pasta – Spaghetti sauce
– Boxed meals – Microwave meals
– Canned/cup soups – Macaroni and cheese
– Ramen noodles – Toiletries
Organizers are thankful for community efforts in regional counties and do not want to hamper those community services. They simply want to invite people to support these complementary efforts with the student convenience of on-campus generosity.
Interested donors can drop off donations at the Foundation Office on either campus. By working with the Foundation, donors can also receive receipts for their 100 percent tax deductible donations.
A generous new twist that just recently developed is a partnership with Hutchinson Health. Registered dietician Emma Schalow is leading collective efforts to be a regular sponsor for the Hutchinson campus pantry one week a month. She also plans to provide nutritional information to students and other donors to the pantry.
“It has been wonderful to see the Ridgewater College community… support this program to help students in need through monetary and food donations,” said Angie Hatlestad, human services/psychology instructor.
For more information, contact the Ridgewater Foundation at 320-222-6095 or 320-222-6098.