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March 29, 2020

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Hamline News

Feed Your Brain Grows Stronger


Since it started in 2017, Feed Your Brain has grown to meet the needs of Hamline students facing food insecurity. In this academic year, Feed Your Brain has made great strides and succeeded in expanding the organization even further.

Feed Your Brain is a student-led initiative to increase awareness of food insecurity and increase food access for Hamline students. This has led to the creation of the Hamline Food Resource Center that provides food resources to help students. Similar organizations exist on campuses nationwide.

For its first three semesters, Feed Your Brain hosted pop-up pantries once per semester eventually increasing the frequency to once a month. In spring 2018, the Food Resource Center was open once every week and yielded over 600 total visits. Beginning this semester, the resource center expanded its hours and has had nearly 300 visits in just the first 3 weeks of the spring semester.

“The Food Resource has grown quickly in the past 6 months and I only see it continuing to grow,” said campus food access AmeriCorps VISTA, Emma Kiley.

Feed Your Brain also collaborated with Hamline’s public health, environmental studies, digital media arts, and professional writing departments to form a CoLLab class in which it hosted focus groups on topics like food insecurity. This class also worked with community partners such as Hamline Elementary School, and the Urban Farm and Garden Alliance’s GrowRx Project.

“The overarching goal is for students to gain experience with interdisciplinary collaborative community-engaged research. Each of the faculty in the course has incorporated applied and engaged learning opportunities in past classes,” said Feed Your Brain Advisor Susi Keefe.

Based on the analysis of Feed Your Brain’s 2017 food access survey, they discovered certain identities, specifically Muslim, transgender, and gender non-binary students were the most risk to be affected by food insecurity. This information directed the conversation in student focus groups hosted in the CoLLAb class.

“Student focus group findings were incredibly important because they helped us to gather more qualitative data about the experience of students who share in identities most impacted by food insecurity at Hamline,” said Feed Your Brain student leader Maggie Bruns.

On February 18, Feed Your Brain hosted a banquet to celebrate their success and present findings from the CoLLab class’s focus groups.

“We had around 75 people in total and we raised $575 for future food access programming. But more importantly, we were able to engage with critical stakeholders around the future of our work on campus. Within a week of the banquet, we have seen and felt an incredible amount of energy around our work,” said Kiley.

Looking to the future, the next steps for Feed Your Brain include expanding their student worker base as well as working on a written proposal for adding more essential items beyond food for students to have access to.

“We want to continue to push for more accessible food resources on campus, such as with dining services; this is directed by the findings of student focus groups and their experience with inaccessibility and the current dining program,” said Bruns.

In addition to changing how dining services operate, Feed Your Brain also would like to implement a program called "Swipe Out Hunger" so students may access meal swipes free of cost.

“We are also thinking more deeply about how the Food Resource Center can intersect with other programs on campus including academic courses, student groups, and campus offices,” said Kiley. “We envision a Food Resource Center that includes a campus kitchen, cooking classes, and more culturally appropriate programming.”

To learn more about Feed Your Brain, visit their website here.


Written by Emma Larson 


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