Combating food insecurity, new food pantry offers law students free, nutritious food

Mondale Kitchen will give law students 24-hour, seven days a week access to single-serving packaged foods and fresh produce.

A row of tables stacked with non-perishable food items stands ready to be served in Mondale Hall on Monday, Jan. 20. Known as

Nur B. Adam

A row of tables stacked with non-perishable food items stands ready to be served in Mondale Hall on Monday, Jan. 20. Known as “Mondale Kitchen”, the food pantry aims to provide convenient, nutritious food to the University’s law students.

Jiang Li

The University of Minnesota Law School will welcome a free food pantry for law students later this month in an effort to combat food insecurity among its students. 

Mondale Kitchen will offer law school students 24-hour, seven days per week access to single-serving packaged foods like granola bars and crackers, along with fresh produce. Students can access the pantry by swiping their ID cards, and the pantry will keep track of the frequency of student visits anonymously.

Third-year law school student Emily Franco, the initiative’s organizer, said she started the food pantry because she found her classmates were having a hard time balancing academics and health. 

“In talking to students over the past couple of years … a lot of times my classmates that I know are very smart, very driven … working hard [and] are struggling to meet their own basic needs,” Franco said. “They don’t have enough hours in the day to be eating nutritious foods and getting enough sleep and getting out there and exercising.”

The pantry is stocked by donations from students and faculty. It also receives funds through an online crowdfunding campaign. 

“We went around and we talked to faculty and let them know this is a project that we’re working on, and a lot of them are very generous,” Franco said. “We had a lot of students send Venmo donations and bring in food donations as well.” 

The group has collected about 50 pounds of food so far and almost $5,000 in donations.

Food insecurity is a campus-wide issue, and roughly 24 percent of the Twin-Cities campus undergraduate students have experienced food insecurity within the past year, according to the 2018 College Student Health Survey.

University Ph.D. student Daniel Keyes, who lives in Prospect Park, said the University is in a grocery desert, with the only option nearby being the relatively expensive Fresh Thyme.

“It’s a shame because if you buy fast food every day, it is 10 times more [expensive] than cooking,” Keyes said. 

Though there is already a food pantry at the University —  the Nutritious U Food Pantry in Coffman Union — many law students say it is not accessible for them to travel from West Bank to East Bank.

“We wanted to do something to supplement some of the University-wide initiatives that we felt like … weren’t comprehensive enough and have it specifically for law students,” said University law student Eman Qureshi, who is a member of the initiative.

Law School professor Heidi Kitrosser supported the committee by donating and helping to promote the group on social media. 

She said she thinks it’s very important that law school students take it upon themselves to take care of each other. 

“I am hoping that this would be something that can support my classmates, my friends, my peers, making sure they’re able to be as successful as I know they can,” Franco said.