Our Annual Conference supports The Crossing, an ecumenical organization located on the campus of the University of Wisconsin-Madison campus. Last fall The Crossing began partnering with a student organization called Food Recovery Network to address food insecurity and food waste on campus. More than 150 students come through for the delicious, health and free meals!
By Rev. Mallory Moore, Executive Director
Last fall a student organization called Food Recovery Network (FRN) approached us about needing a partner organization to help them give away food to students. This organization is one of many on campus seeking to address food insecurity and food waste on campus. The Crossing was quick to say, “Yes! We’d love to work with you!” This was the beginning of The Crossing’s free Tuesday lunch that happens each week while students are on campus. So, every week the Food Recovery Network students deliver leftover food they have received from UW-Madison dorms for us to heat and serve.
An amazing group of students volunteer to help get the meals ready and cleanup afterwards. These students are active at The Crossing, in FRN, or folks looking to find ways to volunteer. As we got started with this program, we weren’t sure what to expect. What we quickly realized is that there is great need for this! We see 150 or more students come through for this delicious, healthy, and free food.
What’s more amazing is that we have started partnering with other student organization and UW-Madison programs to help feed hungry students. This semester one of our student leaders, Anna, is helping to get Badger Volunteers, a service organization, to have regular student volunteers connect with us.
Overall, this amazing program meets so many needs on campus. First, we are doing one small thing to address the growing food insecurity college students are experiencing. Because of the continued rise school expenses, there are many students who are either on an extremely small food budget or none at all. Some say this weekly meal is the healthiest meal they eat all week. Others say it’s the main meal they each that day. This propels us to think about how else we can offer accessible food to students to meet this immediate issue of hunger.
Second, this meal is offering students a time to connect with one another. We see students sitting with each other, having conversation, smiling, and laughing. It’s easy to sit along, plug in ear buds, read, work on school work, or be on phones in dining rooms around campus, but in our space students get to sit next to one another and interact (partly because we FILL our space with people during the meal!). This community building is an incredible aspect of this weekly meal we were not initially anticipating.
Finally, by offering this meal at The Crossing, we are creating an opportunity for students to enter a faith building that affirms who they are, and celebrates their individuality and uniqueness. We are getting to know people as they come week after week, and we are showing students what God’s love looks like in a gentle, friendly way. I believe many of the students we are getting to know would not have walked through our doors if it weren’t for this meal. Sitting around a table eating, talking, laughing, and connecting is a beautiful image of God that we get to be a part of each week with students at UW-Madison.