Feeding the hungry on campus

NAU student stacks boxes in Louies cupboard

The shelves of Louie’s Cupboard are fuller this holiday season, in part because of students’ generosity. Following a fundraising effort earlier this year, a large shipment of food was delivered to campus this month to serve students who need assistance.

The student-run food pantry opened its doors a little more than a year ago, using concepts from a class project of then-senior Jacqueline Brown.

Keeping the shelves stocked has been challenging but the effort got a big boost in May. “We had the idea for a food drive at the end of the last semester for students who had unused dining dollars,” said Casey Fisher, director of strategic planning and marketing for Campus Dining, who also serves as an adviser to Louie’s Cupboard. During a 10-day period, 1,600 pounds of food were collected and given to the Flagstaff Family Food Center, which also serves NAU students.

As part of the promotion, Sodexo, the university’s food provider, matched the dining-dollar contributions, and purchased an additional 1,600 pounds of food. Those items were delivered to Louie’s Cupboard this month, a time when there are more students on campus compared to the summer months following the initial fundraiser.

“We emphasized non-perishable foods that are harder to come by,” Fisher said, referring to purchases of peanut butter, tuna, and canned chicken.

While Louie’s Cupboard helps to fill a need on campus, many students use it as a stopgap or to supplement food received by other local agencies.

The Flagstaff Family Food Center, which offers food boxes and free meals in the region, works closely with NAU. “We have actually set up Louie’s Cupboard as one of our partner agencies who we support throughout the year to ensure they have enough food to sustain their mission in helping students, faculty, and staff,” said Steve Saville, executive director of the Flagstaff Family Food Center, Food Bank and Kitchen. “Another exciting prospect we are working on is how to deliver fresh produce to the campus once a month for the clients of Louie’s Cupboard,” Saville added.