Clare Josef-Maier, Christus House, University of Oregon
In February, University of Oregon hosted a Hunger on Campus listening event for administrators, students, and community leaders committed to addressing food insecurity on campuses across Oregon.
Central Lutheran Church, which also supports an ecumenical, intentional living community for students called Christus House (christushouse.org), has been listening with open hearts for where our call to serve is today. In response to the Hunger on Campus event, the wheels are turning.
Our neighboring Episcopal campus ministry has run a Student Food Pantry for decades, but in recent years, the rising need has far exceeded capacity. Central Lutheran is now exploring the possibility of facilities support for pantry expansion. In addition, April marks the beginning of a Thursday night community kitchen and meal that will be primarily directed to food-insecure students, cross-marketed with the pantry. A local Buddhist chef will guide rotating teams through meal preparation, supporting students with education about nutrition, kitchen safety skills, and food prep and cooking to build confidence and experience preparing simple meals with low-cost ingredients. The community meal is open to all, regardless of participation in the preparation. Between congregants, students, and others from the neighborhood, we hope a diverse, funky group winds up around those tables! Read More >>
Also this month, Central is replanting the community garden on their property – several members of the congregation are experienced gardeners eager to train up student volunteers who will have gleaning rights as well as the gift of service. The hundreds of pounds of produce generated in this garden will be contributed to both the pantry and kitchen.
We believe food insecurity is a huge issue facing students; we also see in students an isolation from community support and integration, lack of confidence with engaging unprepared food, and the ache to have a positive impact on the world. We hope in time to support a thriving ministry of mutuality of service, working the earth, preparing and eating good food together, and a community gathered around the table that engages conversation about justice, faith, and solidarity.