|Champ's Cupboard staff Laura Haffield, Stephanie Anderson and Jacob Froelich|
To some students, Kirby Plaza 245 is just an office down the hall from the Food Court, but for others it is a safe haven.
Champ’s Cupboard, a closet tucked away in Kirby Plaza 245AA, is a food shelf offered to all UMD students, giving relief to those who struggle with the financial woes of college.
The coordinator of Champ’s Cupboard, Laura Haffield, saw the demand for food shelves rising in the community so bringing one to UMD was necessary.
Haffield said, “Our primary goal is to be there for students and help them be successful in college.”
Jacob Froelich, a student worker who helps out with the Cupboard said, “There are so many situations students can find themselves in, for students to know this out there is just a relief.”
Froelich said students contribute a lot at the start of the year and faculty and staff keep the Cupboard supported through the semester.
There is no limit to what students can take each visit.
“We tell them to take what they need,” Haffield said. “We want them to feel comfortable.”
Students can pick from a variety of non-perishable items including rice, pastas, soups, sauces, and vegetables. Students can also choose from toiletries such as shampoos, soaps, diapers, and bedding.
Haffield said some donations have come from alumni, who have vocalized their support for the program because during hard times, the Cupboard would have been a great resource for them.
Stephanie Anderson, who also helps with the Cupboard, enjoys interacting with students using the food shelf. She told a story of a student who came in multiple weeks in a row that would apologize for using the Cupboard so often. "That’s why we’re here – the student was always so grateful," Anderson said. "It was cool to build a relationship with him and have that resource available."
According to Froelich, some students have trouble getting past the stigma of using a food shelf.
“One thing a lot of people don’t realize is that the two groups who are most qualified for food shelves are people who are on a fixed income and students who are under 24-years-old,” he said.
Confidentiality is a given when it comes to Champ’s Cupboard. “We don’t even collect names,” Laura Haffield said. “Students can leave from a back door if that makes them more comfortable.”
Haffield, Froelich, and Anderson hope to see Champ’s Cupboard grow. Future goals include addition to more clothing, varying from winter clothing to attire students need for a job interview.
“The Cupboard is a fairly small operation so we always keep a lot of resources in there about other places in Duluth,” Jacob Froelich said. “We can’t provide everything right now, but we help them find places that can.”
Students who use the Cupboard have left comments for Haffield and the staff saying, “This is a life-saving program. Thank you!” and, “I love this. Champ’s Cupboard has helped me in tough spots.”
When Champ’s Cupboard does expand, staff won’t have a problem finding helping hands.
“We’ve had people ask to volunteer at the cupboard before they know it’s literally just a cupboard,” Froelich said. “I think that speaks a lot about the people on this campus with their generosity and willingness to help others.”
Non-perishable food items and toiletries may be dropped off to Champ's Cupboard, Kirby Plaza 245AA, during regular business hours. To make a cash donation, contact Laura Haffield at 218-726-8502.
Written by Mackenzie Timm. March, 2015.
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