Warrior Cupboard sees increased use during COVID


Mohammed Islam

Food lines the shelves at the Warrior Cupboard.

Kristin Kovalsky, copy editor

Winona State University’s food shelf for students, called the Warrior Cupboard, has increased its food distribution during COVID-19.
The Warrior Cupboard is located in the Integrated Wellness Complex (IWC) and was started in the fall of 2017.
Kate Noelke, director of the IWC, said the university recognized the need for a place where students have access to food.
“Beginning Fall of 2015, a group of WSU staff and students started coming together to discuss the increasing need of access to regular, healthy food experienced by college students at WSU and across the country,” Noelke said. “At that time, many colleges had centralized food pantries, and WSU had many staff members who kept food in their offices or regularly shared their lunches with students, but we didn’t have a centralized place… yet.”
Noelke said the Warrior Cupboard was funded through a university foundation grant.
“A grant was written to the WSU Foundation, and arrangements were made with Enrollment Management Student Life leaders Vice President Denise McDowell and Dean of Students Karen Johnson to transition the old pharmacy space into the new Warrior Cupboard Space. The WSU Foundation grant was funded and the space was begun,” Noelke said.
The Warrior Cupboard receives funding through donations.
“The Warrior Cupboard is funded every year by a $3000 donation from the Student Senate’s Student Fee Committee. That donation is the only sustained donation we receive to buy food to distribute within the Warrior Cupboard,” Noelke said. “We rely on the incredibly generous donations of individuals, retirees, community members, alumni and many others.”
The Warrior Cupboard is accessible to all university students.
“As you can imagine, with less students on campus, we have slightly fewer users than last school year. But, we’ve increased our food distribution by more than 3000 lbs of food so far this year,” Noelke said. “So fewer people are using the service, but they’re using it more often and needing more support when they do visit.”

Mariah Talsma, public health: community health educator major and business administration minor is an intern under Noelke.
“My responsibilities include making sure the cupboard is always stocked with a variety of food for the students. I pick up orders from Walmart weekly & receive donations periodically. When supplies are received, I then stock and organize the Cupboard neatly so students can easily find what they are looking for,” Talsma said.
Talsma said that the Warrior Cupboard has a positive impact on the Winona State community.
“With resources like the Warrior Cupboard, it allows the students to feel taken care of by the university,” Talsma said. “I have been overwhelmed with the love and support shown by my fellow health and wellness staff towards the WSU students. The students really are the faculty’s number one priority.”