Warrior Cupboard provides food for students in need


Lauren Saner

As of Wednesday, Aug. 30, Director of Integrated Wellness Kate Noelke, as well as fellow faculty and students, began preparations for the opening of the Warrior Cupboard, which opened on Tuesday, Sept. 5. The Warrior Cupboard is a place where students who are unable to provide food for themselves can get access to food and personal hygiene items to last them for short periods of time.

Lauren Saner, Copy Editor

Walking into Director of Integrated Wellness Kate Noelke’s office, it was evident that she was full of energy and excitement at 8:45 a.m. Noelke has been a part of many projects, though the one she is most proud of is the Warrior Cupboard.

The Warrior Cupboard, which opened Tuesday, Sept. 5 in the Integrated Wellness Complex (IWC), is where the Parkview Pharmacy was up until 2015.

“In spring 2015…a group of people came together, which included Community Engagement Director Kendra Weber, Director of Health Services Connie Kamara and some of our counseling folks, and they were really noticing and hearing from our colleagues on campus who work in student services and also our faculty colleagues, that students were showing up not having eaten food that day, and that really…contributed to the lack of success in the academic realm and their health was in danger,” Noelke said.

Through a grant process and the AmeriCorps Vista’s help, the idea became a reality after the closing of the pharmacy in 2016. Noelke shared how there was a big team that has been working with her on this project.

“The more this was happening, the group came together because they were sharing ‘I have experienced this as well’… everybody started noticing that this was happening and at the same time, there were some reports that were starting to be published out of the Hope Lab at [University of Wisconsin]-Madison, that spoke specifically to food insecurity on college students,” Noelke said.

In preparation for the opening, Noelke and her colleagues have begun to collect food to provide to the students that will be coming to the Warrior Cupboard. They have received discounts from HyVee to purchase food, a Special Project grant from the Winona State Foundation, as well as food and funds from anonymous donors.

For a student to be granted access to the Warrior Cupboard, they first need to make an appointment with Noelke or stop by the Health and Wellness Services in IWC 222 to talk about what their needs are and what options they have.

After a student meets with Noelke or a Health and Wellness Services staff member, they will be granted access into the Cupboard for one of four periods; during the length of the semester, the first two weeks before classes start, between December and January when classes are not in session, and the last two weeks after classes end in May.

The Cupboard is based on the honor system, so students who meet the criteria to have access are to take what they need to last them a couple of days. But it doesn’t just include food. Noelke has created “one pot” and “one pan” meals, which includes bags that have recipe ideas, cooking supplies, and food needed to create these meals. The Cupboard also provides some personal hygiene products, like deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste for students.

These students are also required to take a survey during the semester, to see if their needs have changed or if they still need help. Those who no longer need help from the cupboard can be removed from those who have access to the cupboard. But if students need more support, they will be referred to Winona Volunteer Services.

“The Cupboard is not meant to help a student through a month’s worth of food. The Cupboard is here so they can grab something that will help for a couple of days,” Noelke said.

The Warrior Cupboard is always looking for donations, so students are encouraged to donate anything they can spare, either online if it is a cash donation, or next to the Pepsi machine near the Cupboard for food.

Noelke said that some of the Greek organizations have been a part of this process, and that she hopes it will become a place that will be run by students for students.

“We have had support but not a lot of engagement so far. We hope that changes…We hope students can embrace this space,” Noelke said.

There is also a sponsorship program for the Warrior Cupboard, where a club or organization can support the Cupboard for a certain term. There are activities required to support and help raise awareness for the cupboard, which includes possible events like food drives or fundraisers, but could be as simple as educational flyers.

During the interview, one of Noelke’s colleagues, Robyn Kieffer, donor relations lead of university advancement, shared how she too is excited for the Warrior Cupboard to open to students.

“It’s sad that we need it, but good that we have it,” Kieffer said.