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A Simple Idea – Campus Cupboard

Close the GapIn the spring of 2012, Michele Thomason was the vice-principal and soon to be principal of the Colgan Alternative Resource Center. Michele and I began the first of many conversations about her students at Colgan and how, or if, Second Harvest Community Food Bank could do more to help.

Colgan has one of the highest rates of children receiving free and reduced lunch in the St. Joseph School District. Second Harvest was providing food for 14 (1 in 8 kids that qualify) for Backpack Buddies at Colgan. Michele was quick to realize that the Backpack Buddies program was not enough to supplement the struggling families at Colgan.  

By June 2012, we began working on what we called then, “The School Pantry Project.” It was a simple idea; Second Harvest would provide nutritious food to the school that would be available to the families of Colgan allowing the school to offer emergency food assistance. As with most “simple ideas” we spent countless hours during the summer planning for the launch of the program. The marketing and development team at Second Harvest took “The School Pantry Project” and created our new program name of Campus Cupboard.

Adam Lewis, a business teacher at Colgan, became the program coordinator of Campus Cupboard at Colgan. He worked to incorporate this simple idea into hands on learning and volunteerism for his students. He and Christine Feuerbacher, director of programs at Second Harvest, collaborated to ensure the success of the new program. 

Complete with flyers, signage and uniforms, the students of Colgan opened Campus Cupboard on September 26, 2012. I will never forget how I felt being in their presence that day. I saw the beginning of a transformational change.

I remember one of the students was carrying groceries out to families’ cars with a smile on his face and an amazing attitude. I learned that day that the teachers at Colgan had never seen that student smile.

Another student noticed on her shirt “EST 2012”. She asked, “This is the first year? Who else has one of these?” I replied, “No one. This is the first Campus Cupboard.” She smiled from ear to ear and giggling, said “Wow. Our school doesn’t get anything first.”

Campus Cupboard served 30 families the first day. Since, they now serve 50-60, nearly 60% of all Colgan families each month.  The operations of Campus Cupboard including: inventory management, handling, packing, and customer service are all completed by the students of Mr. Lewis’ class. One student has been quoted as saying that they never knew they had something to give, until being in Mr. Lewis’ class and volunteering for Campus Cupboard.

At the 2013 Tribute to St. Joseph School District Teachers and Staff Dinner, Adam Lewis was awarded the Walter Meierhoffer, Jr. Innovation Award from the St. Joseph School District Foundation for the success of Campus Cupboard. Because of his work, his amazing students, the families of Colgan, the teachers and administrators, the team at Second Harvest, and the support of the St. Joseph School District, struggling families are receiving emergency assistance for a basic human need, and right, food.

During the speech by Dr. Albrecht Kissel, President and CEO of Boehringer Ingelheim Vetmedica, Inc. he spoke about the need to have curriculums that incorporate real word experiences. He also stated that his favorite teacher in life, was life. I appreciate his comments and am so proud that Mr. Lewis’ class and Campus Cupboard is the epitome of what he spoke so passionately about.

Walmart ImageWe have the opportunity to grow the Campus Cupboard program and need your help to do it. Please vote daily through April 30 via Facebook here.

Collaboration is amazing. Collaboration is rewarded. The best most impactful things in life are simple.

Posted by Tamara Grubb, COO - Friday, 04/26/13, 12:08 PM - Comments - Category: Second Harvest News

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