In the third of my ongoing series of mentor stories, I shared how novelist Aidan Donnelley-Rowley nurtured my book writing ambition and asked:
Tell me who you have connected with because of a shared interest or passion project. And yes, I want to know what the interest or project was too! Book club? Dance class? Coding Club? Volunteering? A meetup?
And the randomly selected winner? The connections made by a group of student volunteers with a passion for ensuring all of their college classmates are fed.
Here’s the story (and thank you Mary for permitting me to share it):
My Dream Network is the team of students who have created the Bruin Campus Cupboard food pantries at 3 different campuses across Salt Lake Community College. We share a passion for making sure students have access to delicious, fresh food to stay healthy & be at their best — including summer semester. SLCC Social Work Association & Thayne Center SLCC students staff the pantry locations & partner with Utah Food Bank, Bountiful Food Pantry, Utah AIDS Foundation, & community gardeners to gather donated food, personal care items, & career clothes. SLCC faculty & staff have developed service learning curricula on hunger issues, sustainable fashion, & nutrition & wellness. These student leaders from all disciplines across the College are set to open a fourth pantry location this fall, & they are unstoppable. #BYDN #mynetworktoyou — Mary Theresa Migliorelli
After reading this, I had to email Mary for more background details…
When I worked at the SLCC Development Office (2010–12) my colleague Anne Marie Jensen was an adjunct professor of nutrition. She came into my office one morning to let me know she was concerned about a student, who needed some serious help. One of her international students had appeared very weak and ill in class, and Anne Marie had asked if he was OK. He apologized and admitted that he had hardly eaten in the last 3 days. Due to political unrest in his home country, he had been cut off from his family and his financial resources had dwindled. That evening, Anne Marie took him emergency grocery shopping, and the next day she was in my office to find out about the food pantry system. I had worked at the Utah Food Bank and 2–1–1 Information and Referral, and we quickly connected the student to become an eligible client at a neighborhood pantry. In the meantime, Anne Marie and I started hearing food insecurity was/still is a huge issue for college students, and we began seeing articles in major newspapers about California colleges setting up food pantries on campus. Evidently, SLCC students were already starting to lobby the administration to create some space for a pantry, and some time after I left the College they were successful in starting one.
The first SLCC Bruin Pantry Cupboard was literally a small walk-in storage closet on the South City campus, with shelves, canned goods, and some personal care items, donated by the campus community and the Bountiful Food Pantry north of Salt Lake City. By late 2016, the student leaders had worked with the administration to build out a larger more accessible pantry on the main floor near student services, with a brightly lit, well-designed grocery area with a large refrigerator wall case and freezer up front and a storage/prep room in back. Students and staff members can choose what they needed from a full array of nutritious items donated through community partners and campus wide food drives. (Recently, a student documentary film team from Utah Valley University came to film there, and noted SLCC South City Campus has the premier campus food pantry of all the ones they had seen, while researching their hunger documentary. I was especially proud to hear this.)
The students have excelled at making people feel welcome, inviting people to browse, explore, try the pantry out for a while, and offer feedback on needed items. The student leaders and volunteers have made it a great resource, and an energizing place to be.
YES — there are more weekly #BYDN #mynetworktoyou giveaways in the works.
Sign up for my newsletter to learn first who mentored me (and what book I’m personally giving away). And heck yes, I’m looking forward to receiving your mentorship stories.
Kitchener. San Francisco. Bucks County. Montreal. Where in the world is #BYDN showing up next? Full calendar of upcoming book tour and speaking engagements can be found on my website.
Are you based in the SF Bay area? Are you free on Wednesday, June 6? Want to hangout that day with me…
If so, I’d love you to be part of the live studio audience for the taping of my upcoming online course offered by Creative Live. Find all the details you need here.