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The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

South Dakota State University's Independent Student-Run Newspaper Since 1885

The Collegian

Jack’s Cupboard’s new leadership finds ways to reach community

Submitted Photo
Picture of Jack’s Cupboard volunteering at SDSUs track meet, Saturday, January 20th, 2024.

South Dakota State University’s on-campus food pantry, Jack’s Cupboard, recently introduced a new leadership program in fall 2023.

The leadership program is called “For Students by Students” and was created by Nicole Schilling in a capstone project where she focused on improving nutrition for students facing food insecurity.

The leadership program had a slow start with finding volunteers but has led the way to substantial growth within the SDSU community and doubling the number of members on the food pantry executive board.

Although the program has had success, Jack’s Cupboard needs more volunteers to meet the needs of hungry students. During the pandemic, Jack’s Cupboard gave out an average of 127.5 pounds of food to 15 students each week. Now, an average of 651 pounds of food is dispersed to 107 students each week. By Thursday of each week, the shelves are empty. Due to the increased demand, more volunteers are needed.

According to the National Library of Medicine, 32.9% of college students report food insecurity. Food insecurity affects mental and physical health, socialization and academic performance.

“I don’t think food insecurity has a particular look, so no one ever knows what someone else is going through,” said Avery Sage, Jack’s Cupboard adviser.

The leadership program has taken a deeper dive into helping food insecurity by creating brand awareness.

The new leadership team has organized four food drives, although only two were sponsored by Jack’s Cupboard. The first sponsored event was Hobo Day Fighting Hunger, which brought in 1,300 pounds of food, and the second being the Christmas food drive. Other organizations that have helped Jack’s Cupboard are Brookings Food Pantry, and Lead State.

Jack’s Cupboard has also created more brand awareness by increasing advertising on social media, helping the team members reach a larger audience and intrigue volunteers to come to meetings. They meet once a month, usually Wednesday nights at 5:30 p.m. in the Student Union and serve free pizza.

“Our social media has helped people learn what Jack’s Cupboard is all about,” said Katelyn Winberg, the public relations specialist.

More volunteers would also allow Jack’s Cupboard to extend its hours, providing increased availability to students. Right now, the cupboard is only open on Tuesday and Thursdays from 3 to 6 p.m.

By adding additional days and hours, this could help prevent many students from going hungry between meals and provide resources during holiday breaks.

 “We encourage any students looking for volunteer opportunities to connect with Jack’s Cupboard,” Sage said. “It is the volunteers that make Jack’s Cupboard function in the first place.”

In addition, Jack’s Cupboard leaders have worked at concession stands at track events for Sodexo to raise additional money, The first SDSU track event they hosted was Jan. 20, then again Jan. 26.

The leaders of Jack’s Cupboard are enthusiastic about having additional ways to raise money such as these track meets, it is a huge undertaking. If more volunteers helped with these events, it would create more flexibility in the leaders’ schedules.

 “With the increased volunteer opportunities, more volunteers are needed, and this would create more flexibility in the leadership member’s schedules,” said Schilling.

Not only is food insecurity important to the campus community, but it is also important to the community at large. In addition to helping SDSU students, Jack’s Cupboard helps the Brookings community. The pantry donated to the University Lutheran Newman Center, the Food Recovery Network and the Brookings Food Pantry. 

“It’s a nice way to give back to the community that has done so much for you,” said Budhi Kasu, Jack’s Cupboard volunteer.

People can volunteer by stocking shelves and weighing food for students, or by running concession stands with the leadership team to raise money for Jack’s Cupboard.

Check out SignUpGenius to set up a time to volunteer for Jack’s Cupboard’s spring 2024 schedule and visit the Instagram page @jackscupboardsdsu.

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