We are more than ramen

Hamline University’s food justice initiatives are trying to support students.

More stories from Samantha Lindquist


Hamline’s initiatives to provide food justice for students have ramped up significantly within the last couple of years. Feed Your Brain Campaign, an initiative  led  by junior An Garagilia and senior Elise Hanson, has been organizing events to provide students with bags of groceries at no cost to them. Along with Feed Your Brain, Hamline has also held Power of One Day, an effort to raise money for students with food insecurity.

Hamline’s partnership with the Keystone Food Mobile is one of Hamline’s more recent food justice efforts to make students feel more secure about their nutrition.

Thursday Feb. 22, the Food Mobile arrived stocked full of groceries on the east side of Bush Library. Students were able to come, fill out a quick form, and enter the bus to fill their bag with groceries. Groceries consisted of everything from fresh fruit and vegetables to frozen turkey and chicken. There were also kitchen staples like canned goods, milk and eggs.

The Keystone Food Mobile is run by Keystone Community Services, the largest food shelf in St. Paul. The company owns three brick-and-mortar food shelves, and one food mobile. The Food Mobile has been coming to Hamline since Spring 2017, and currently comes once a month for a two-hour time period from 10:30-12:30.

Campus Chaplain and Director of the Wesley Center Nancy Victorin-Vangerud says that the Food Mobile is a very important resource for Hamline students.

“From the Wesley Center’s perspective, we want to support health, food action and food justice. Food helps you succeed in class, and impacts mental, physical and I believe spiritual health,” Victorin-Vangerud said.

Junior James Cook volunteered with the Food Mobile last Thursday. Cook  has been an active volunteer for Hamline’s food justice initiatives in his time at Hamline, and believes that food is crucial for a college student’s success.

“Food is so important for education,” Cook said. “I’m so glad that these [food justice] efforts are getting more traction.”

Victorin-Vangerud emphasizes that students shouldn’t feel ashamed about utilizing their resources, and that there are a surprisingly high amount of Hamline students who identify as being food insecure.

“Students should come with dignity, people shouldn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed. People don’t believe this is really an issue, especially at a private university. The whole idea that all college kids eat is ramen is kind of a joke, but it’s a serious issue.”

Ilon Preston, Mobile Distribution Manager for Feed Your Brain, hopes that the experience doesn’t stigmatize food insecurity, but rather that it empowers people to use their resources, and that it can even be a fun experience for Hamline students.

“I really hope [getting food] is a fun thing to do. You don’t have to feel bad! You’re in college! You don’t have to just eat ramen and bananas.”

Preston’s goal is for the Food Mobile to come to Hamline every two weeks, rather than once a month as it is now, and to get a lot more students to use the resource.

“I just love the idea of more people coming. The more people, the better.”

Victorin-Vangerud says that in the past there have been as many as 24 Hamline students at the Food Mobile on any given date, and as few as 11.

Besides the continuation of the Feed Your Brain campaign, Power of One Day and the Food Mobile, Victorin-Vangerud has aspirations to do even more food justice work on campus by next year.

“We are working with Patti Klein and are hoping- key word hoping- that we can get a food shelf on campus by next fall, staffed by student workers,” Victorin-Vangerud said.

Students who are in a food emergency or are unsure where their next meal will come from are welcome to contact Dean of Students Patti Klein or Associate Dean of Students Javier Gutierrez. The Foodmobile will be back on campus Mar. 29 and Apr. 26.