Community College launches food shelf

Starting next week, North Hennepin Community College in Brooklyn Park will offer its students something new: free food.

The idea for the Food Cupboard came from two students who conducted an informal survey as part of a class project, said Service Learning Director Troy Nellis, who will run the food shelf.

"They found that there was a great need at the campus," said Nellis. "We as a campus always knew that there was an under-served population here. We have a lot of first-generation students and a lot of low-income students."

Nearly 67 percent of the 12,000 students who attend North Hennepin are low-income, according to the college.

"Our population, at least from what we've understood, are often pursuing degrees but trying to juggle families and part-time jobs," said Nellis.

Volunteer students, faculty and staff will help run the Food Cupboard, which will be open three days a week, offering primarily non-perishable items. It will be located in a discreet area of the campus, said Nellis.

"We have had a concern, a worry that maybe people will feel vulnerable, maybe concerned about having to seek out the food," said Nellis. "Our intent was to be sure that we were in a spot that was not in an area where people can easily be seen... and (students) could kind of come in and out, and not have that exposure."

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