School Nutrition: How Concordia & Basics Feed Hungry Students Together
We’ve mentioned before that it took several partners to help Concordia University’s College of Education and the Faubion School come to life and become what it is today: a groundbreaking facility that brings PreK-8 and higher education learners together under one roof, with wraparound services in the medical, dental, and mental health arenas to help us address the whole child.
Another big part of what Faubion offers? Food. We partner with Basics, a new grocery company that’s working to make it easier for more people to eat better food; and to offer kids and their families several nutritious options, including the food they can take home over the weekend so they won’t go hungry. For more details on this effort, check out our Q&A with Meredith Eggert, who runs the food club at Faubion.
How did the partnership between Concordia/Faubion and Basics come about?
My family has known Kevin Matheny (Concordia’s Chief Development Officer) for twenty years. Four or five years ago, we were sitting with him at a dinner table talking about how Pacific Foods (the company we founded and ran until 2017) wanted to help folks who are hungry with “Nourish boxes”— our idea for boxes that provide three days of food for those in need. Kevin mentioned that the Faubion School, next to Concordia, needed help. So we met with Faubion’s former principal, LaShawn Lee, and asked her what was needed. We started by helping in the food pantry and provided food for kids who needed it over Thanksgiving, Christmas, and summer break.
Why do you think schools should address hunger issues?
On a broader scope, schools should look at the whole student to identify their needs — this includes clothes, food, their mental health, etc. If a student is not succeeding, there might be other reasons. By providing food, schools may be able to eliminate one thing that may be causing an issue. As a society, we don’t talk about food issues as much as we should.
So there are a few initiatives you’re involved in, right? A food club, which is a store that sells healthy, low-cost products, and a backpack program where you give kids bags of food for the weekend. Anyone can sign up, right?
Yes, any Faubion parent can sign up for the backpack program. No questions asked. Whatever we have that parents need is available to them. And all the food for the backpack program is donated.
How is it all going?
It’s going really well. The people who know about it and use it really like it. There’s a kindergartener whose family comes to the pantry and the student often stops by just to say hello. You never know the impact that you have on people, and it’s such a great feeling when they think of you and come by just to say hi.
I get to see a lot of people and build a lot of relationships through sharing food. It’s such a cool community, and they really look after each other. It’s just nice to be a part of that. With the pantry, it’s so rewarding to know you are making a difference and impacting kids’ lives in a positive way. I get tired sometimes on Friday, but knowing that 150 kids have food for the weekend feels great. And it’s fun! Everyone is so nice and happy. You walk away knowing you are part of something special. The families give me so much encouragement; this project is really a two-way street.