Provost advances collaboration between college and healthy food resource
In May 2015, Christina Royal, Ph.D., provost and vice president of academic affairs at Inver Hills Community College, joined the board of directors of The Open Door, a nonprofit that serves as the largest food shelf in Dakota County. Christina pointed out how the missions of Inver Hills and The Open Door are anchored by shared values.
“Our organizations have so many synergies,” she said, noting how The Open Door operates The Mobile Pantry® on the college’s main campus in Inver Grove Heights. Other connections include the Summer Academy for Environmental, Food and Agricultural Sciences, or Ag Summer Academy, the result of a $250,000 CHS grant, and the Inver Hills-Metro State Interdisciplinary Community Garden and Orchard.
When Christina attended her first board meeting, she discovered that board members had a Star Tribune news clipping on the wall, one spotlighting the Community Garden: “Metro State, Inver Hills build community in community garden.”
“The Open Door and Inver Hills understand that simply delivering food is not enough,” Christina said. “We provide access to the tools, resources and education that change lives.”
About The Open Door
A fresh approach to ending local hunger
The Open Door assists more than 5,500 people monthly in the following ways:
- Healthy food support
- Two food shelves in Eagan and Lakeville
- Seven Mobile Pantry® sites
- Newest program: The Mobile Lunch Box brings healthy lunches and enrichment activities to low-income children during the summer months
- Family advocacy/community resource referral link families to critical, stabilizing services at social service agencies
- Garden To Table® program
- 140 community garden plots allow families to grow the food their family needs free of charge
Healthy food support
Lisa Horn, executive director of The Open Door, reported that Inver Hills was the first site for The Mobile Pantry® at a community college, creating the model that also offers the healthy food service at Dakota County Technical College. Lisa said the Community Garden at Inver provides healthy food to The Mobile Pantry, delivering fresh produce the day the service arrives on campus. Extra produce is brought to The Open Door’s food shelves.
“We also have an Inver Hills student on our staff,” Lisa said, referring to Pamela Murphy, who became acquainted with The Open Door through a service-learning project and was later hired as the nonprofit’s mobile food coordinator. “Pamela was recently promoted to program manager,” Lisa added.
In 2013, The Open Door (formerly Eagan & Lakeville Resource Centers) was awarded the Minnesota Campus Compact President’s Community Partner Award for its work with Inver Hills Community College. The Open Door offers Inver Hills students service-learning experiences related to coursework in psychology, communication, human services, ceramics, statistics and public speaking. Minnesota Campus Compact supports civic engagement at colleges and universities around the state. Inver Hills President Tim Wynes, J.D., nominated the nonprofit for the award.
Kristin Digiulio and Thad Ballestrazze, both biology faculty at the college, and August Hoffman, psychology faculty at Metro State, co-manage the Community Garden. Kristin explained how individuals from The Open Door have had garden plots in the past, but a rush on plots this season precluded that option. The 10-foot by 10-foot plots are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Priority goes to students enrolled at Inver Hills and Metro State
Kristin and August met with representatives from The Open Door earlier this year to discuss a number of partnership ideas. “We are talking about starting a series of workshops on food insecurity for fall semester 2015—and maybe throughout the year,” Kristin said. “The workshops will be multidisciplinary and will involve students and instructors from several programs, including biology, sociology, poly sci, economics, health and human services. Many of our students use The Mobile Pantry and we are happy to provide so much fresh food from the garden.”
Kristin added that this year the apples are going crazy. “We have a bunch of different kinds, including Honeycrisp and Harrison,” she said. “We have cherry trees, too.”
Advancing the collaboration
Lisa Horn reported that Cathy DeSutter, incoming vice president of the Inver Hills Foundation Board as well as a member of two Open Door committees, Special Events and Development, was instrumental in bringing Christina to The Open Door. Christina also met Karen Dare, a member of The Open Door Board, at a meeting of the Eagan Kick-Start Rotary Club. Both Cathy and Karen were inspired to strengthen the connection between the college and nonprofit by recommending that Lisa speak to Christina about joining the board.
“Christina’s passion around the mission is undeniable,” Lisa said. “We are very excited about having her on our board.”
Christina is equally enthusiastic about building on the collaboration. “You can’t educate a hungry student,” she said. “You can’t educate a student who doesn’t feel safe.”
To learn more about The Open Door, contact:
The Open Door
About Christina Royal, Ph.D.
Christina Royal has been involved in education and training for more than 15 years. She serves as provost and vice president of academic affairs at Inver Hills, heading a number of areas, including academic programs, information technology, the Academic Quality Improvement Program (AQIP) and institutional effectiveness council. She provides the vision and overall guidance for academic policy formulation, educational planning and new program development based on integrated instruction, academic support and student success.
Christina previously served as the associate vice president for eLearning and innovation at Cuyahoga Community College, the director of technology-assisted learning for the School of Graduate and Continuing Education at Marist College, and the director of curriculum for the Beacon Institute for Learning. She has taught fully online, Web-facilitated, hybrid and accelerated courses in computer literacy, educational technology, business and psychology. She earned her doctorate in education and instructional design for online learning as well as a graduate certificate in online teaching from Capella University.
About the Community Garden
Located behind Heritage Hall on the south side of campus, the Inver Hills-Metro State Community Garden and Orchard was established in spring 2012. Students, faculty, staff and community members maintain the garden, which generates produce for local community food shelves as well as for students and community members who grow produce for personal use in reserved plots.
To learn more, visit Community Garden or contact:
CHS A3 for Agricultural Careers Coordinator
August Hoffman, Ph.D.
Metropolitan State University
About Ag Summer Academy
Modern agriculture is focused on achieving the best results in nutrition, ecology and economics. Rewarding jobs are abundant in food systems, agricultural sciences, natural resources, soil science, hydrology, animal physiology, food chemistry and nutrition, yet these fields are experiencing critical shortages of qualified graduates.
Ag Summer Academy at Inver Hills offers opportunities for students entering 10th, 11th or 12th grade to explore career paths in the environmental, food and agricultural sciences. The Agricultural Sciences Career Pipeline at the college is offering three $1,000 scholarships for students thinking about pursuing careers in agriculture. Funding for the academy was provided by CHS and the Minnesota Agricultural Education Leadership Council (MAELC).
Summer Academy for Environmental, Food and Agricultural Sciences: July 20–24, 2015
To learn more about Ag Summer Academy and the Agricultural Sciences Career Pipeline Scholarship, contact:
CHS A3 for Agricultural Careers Coordinator
About The Mobile Pantry®
The Mobile Pantry is an innovative approach in bringing food support to those who lack reliable transportation. The Mobile Pantry provides individuals and families in need of food support with healthy, wholesome food from a freshly stocked bus.
The Mobile Pantry®
7707 147th Street West
Apple Valley, MN
Client Appointment Line: 651-686-0787
To learn more, visit The Open Door or contact:
Mobile Food Coordinator
Inver Hills Counseling and Advising