New dining services director takes office

Changes in dining hall management brings the potential for Feed Your Brain and student collaboration with dining services.

Kelly Holm, Senior Reporter

Courtney Cawthon is the new Dining Services Director at Hamline as of Feb. 17, replacing Ed Kreitzman.

Cawthon comes to Hamline with a degree in Dianetics from Western Illinois University and several years of experience in dining services at Loras College in Iowa, first as a residential manager and then as a retail manager.

“I just love how different everybody is on campus,” Cawthon said of her impression of Hamline so far. “Everybody is so welcoming and so friendly and it’s just been a good place to start a new career… it’s very warming to come here and see a smiling face on all the students and staff and faculty.”

Emma Kiley ‘19, Campus Food Access AmeriCorps VISTA and founder of the Feed Your Brain Campaign, expressed interest in reaching out to Cawthon about tackling food insecurity on campus.

“As the Campus Food Access VISTA, [I am] thinking a lot about how the next year’s VISTA will maybe be collaborating with dining services in a couple of different ways,” Kiley said. “There’s a really awesome opportunity to have an organization called Swipe Out Hunger… that would require a lot of collaboration between food access efforts and the dining hall.”

Swipe Out Hunger, a student-founded nonprofit that originated in 2010 at UCLA, now has a presence combating food insecurity on university campuses across the country, including the University of Minnesota. Its signature program is “The Swipe Drive,” which allows students to give leftover dining hall meal swipes to their peers. 

“It’s a program that would likely live in the Dean of Students office, but it would require a lot of effort and collaboration from dining services,” Kiley said. 

Hamline’s Food Resource Center, Kiley stated, also needs to be expanded upon with more partners.

“We are seeing an increased number of students visiting the Food Resource Center, so based on the numbers we’ve seen in the food access surveys, there’s no way that the Food Resource Center will be able to serve all of the food-insecure students,” she said. “It’s going to have to be a collaborative effort between the Food Resource Center and Feed Your Brain and dining services, to make sure students’ food needs are met.”

Feed Your Brain is interested in forging a closer relationship with dining services in their future efforts, according to Kiley.

“Feed Your Brain is really excited about focusing on dining services in their future advocacy work, mostly around making it easier for students to access culturally appropriate and allergy-sensitive food in the dining hall. They’re thinking about maybe… creating some kind of staff training menu to assist with that.”

Cawthon, meanwhile, is currently pondering the social side of dining services’ outreach to students. 

“I’d like to have some events eventually planned in the future, to have going on at night… for the students to come here and have fun, and hopefully get what they want out of dining services,” she said. “I just want to make sure that it’s a safe and fun environment for all the students.”