Inver Hills Designated Hunger Free Campus

LeadMN Equity & Inclusion Campaign

LeadMN has designated Inver Hills Community College a Hunger Free Campus. Inver Hills joins three other Minnesota State colleges, Central Lakes College, South Central College and Anoka Technical College, in the first round of colleges designated Hunger Free Campuses across Minnesota. A association representing 180,00 Minnesota public two-year college students, LeadMN recognizes the work the Inver Hills campus community has accomplished to reduce food insecurity in the college’s student population.

Hunger Free Campuses represents an initiative by LeadMN to address food insecurity on Minnesota community and technical college campuses. LeadMN: “The 2019 #RealCollege national report shows that 45 percent of college students in the United States are food insecure. This statistic is consistent with recent Minnesota data that shows 40 percent of college students have experienced food insecurity, meaning they do not have a steady source of food or cannot afford to feed themselves or their families.

“At LeadMN, we believe that no student should have to go hungry while pursuing their education. That is why we are advocating towards ensuring our schools are Hunger Free Campuses. Learn more about our previous work on this initiative here. A Hunger Free Campus is a Minnesota State community and/or technical college that is actively taking strides to reduce food insecurity amongst students.”

Inver Hills perspective…

Nicole Bietz, Inver Hills counselor, co-chairs the college’s Student Resource and Resiliency Committee (SRRC) along with Barb Curchack, dean of liberal arts. Nicole reported that Inver Hills submitted a Hunger Free Campus application to LeadMN that required meeting five criteria:

1) Have an established on-campus food pantry or partnership with a local food bank to provide regular, on-campus food distributions:
  • Inver Hills has partnered with The Open Door to provide the resources of The Mobile Pantry on campus since February 2013
  • Health Service at Inver Hills developed a Lunch Box program for students to receive breakfast or lunch while on campus
2) Provide information to students on SNAP, MFIP, and other programs that reduce food insecurity:
3) Hold or participate in one hunger awareness event per academic year:
4) Have an established emergency assistance grant that is available to students:
  • Inver Hills has offered emergency grants to students for more than 15 years via donations from the Kopp Family Foundation and DreamKeepers as well as a Minnesota Office of Higher Education grant
  • College employees can support this program, Acts of Kindness (AoK), through payroll giving
  • Inver Hills also provides $1,000 grants to single parents via Gail’s Fund
5) Establish a hunger task force that meets a minimum of three times per academic year; the task force must include at least two students currently enrolled at the college:
  • Inver Hills created the Student Resources and Resiliency Committee (SRRC) in fall 2015 after sending college representatives to attend training at the Dr. Donna M. Beegle Poverty Immersion Institute
  • Committee members, including faculty, staff, administrators and students, organize awareness activities and trainings during annual campus events, including Kick Off, Student Success Day, Professional Development Days, and Hunger & Homelessness Awareness Week

The Mobile Pantry at Inver Hills

A partnership between Inver Hills and The Open Door, The Mobile Pantry is available to Inver Hills students who need food for themselves or their dependents.

Attention Students:

The Mobile Pantry bus will not be coming to campus in its typical fashion at this time. However, if you are in need of food please contact, and our counselors can help. While campus remains open we will provide prepackaged bags of nonperishable food items to students in need. The bags can be picked up in the Welcome Center in the College Center building between the hours of 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Monday–Thursday while supplies remain.
Inver Hills Mobile Pantry Data

Inver Hills Lunch Box testimonials

Health Service at Inver Hills offers a Lunch Box program as a supplement to The Mobile Pantry. Lunch Box provides ready-to-eat meals for breakfast or lunch with the goal to make sure students have enough to eat while they’re on campus, especially if they weren’t able to eat breakfast or pack a lunch or don’t have the funds they need to purchase items at the Fresh Stop Cafe in the College Center.

“The student Lunch Box means to me that I will be able to have food on campus and not have to worry about going hungry for a few hours. I get to be able to focus on my schoolwork and get my education. Sandy has helped this campus more than we can express.”
“A way for me and my boyfriend to not go hungry. It’s hard to focus in class and succeed when you’re hungry.”
“A chance to eat without worrying about my food budget.”
“I am a part-time employee, and I have rent and bills to pay. The Lunch Box has saved my life. If it wasn’t for the Lunch Box, I would be missing lunch every day. Thank you. Everyone who made this available for us.”
“It means I never have to worry about being hungry and I can get through my class.”
“The student Lunch Box keeps me energized for my classes and helps me save money to pay my bills instead of using it on food in the cafeteria.”

The following is an official press release from LeadMN:


Mike Dean
Executive Director


A survey of almost 10,000 Minnesota students finds they’re struggling to have their basic needs met

ST. PAUL, Minnesota, March 5, 2020 — The largest survey of college and university students in Minnesota found that 37% of respondents were food insecure in the previous 90 days and 48% were housing insecure in the previous year.

The data points to significant disparities by race and ethnicity that likely contribute to Minnesota persistent challenges to improve the opportunity gap. The report states, “White students have lower rates of food insecurity (32%) as compared to their peers; rates of food insecurity are higher among Pacific Islander or Native Hawaiian (50%), Black (53%), and Indigenous (67%) students. Rates of housing insecurity are consistently higher than those of food insecurity and the patterns across groups are similar. Students who identify as Indigenous or as American Indian or Alaska Native have the highest rates of homelessness, followed closely by Hispanic or Latinx and Black students; as with the other basic needs insecurities, White students have lower rates of homelessness than most of their peers.”

“No student can succeed in the classroom if they can’t get food or shelter outside the classroom,” said Oballa Oballa, president of LeadMN. “If Minnesota wants to meet the state workforce demands, we need to help meet the basic needs of college students so they can focus on the classroom.”

Read the full #RealCollege Survey Report:

The study shows how #RealCollege students face many challenges that previous generations did not face on their path to a college degree. Colleges and Universities are making efforts to address these challenges with the passage of the Hunger Free Campus Act which the Minnesota legislature passed in 2019. So far, four community colleges in Minnesota have been awarded the designation for taking five critical steps to address food insecurity on campus.

Those campuses are: Anoka Technical College, Central Lakes College, Inver Hills Community College, and South Central College.

About LeadMN

LeadMN represents the 180,000 students attending Minnesota’s public two-year community and technical colleges. The statewide student association is recognized by the Minnesota State system as the official voice of two-year students on Minnesota’s 47 community and technical college campuses.

Learn more by visiting LeadMN.

About the author of the #Real College Report

The Hope Center for College, Community, and Justice is home to an action research team using rigorous research to drive innovative practice, evidence-based policymaking, and effective communications to support #RealCollege students.

Learn more by visiting The Hope Center.


Learn more about Inver Hills earning the LeadMN Hunger Free Campus designation by contacting:

Nicole Bietz
Student Resource and Resiliency Committee (SRRC) Co-Chair
Website: Counseling & Advising

Barbara Curchack
Dean of Liberal Arts
Student Resource and Resiliency Committee (SRRC) Co-Chair

May Yang
LeadMN Manager of Equity and Inclusion

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