Expired donations hurt campus cupboard

Zach Blair

First-year roommates Nabindra Karki and Mars Verma were in need of food and snacks last week. As international students from Nepal, the ease of access to food has been a bit tricky to nail down, so Augie’s Campus Cupboard in Sorensen building could’ve possibly served as a relieving solution. 

However, sometimes the food from the Cupboard is not the freshest, even expired as was the case according to Karki and Verma, who sought out food for their room. These boys are a special case, too, since they arrived on campus this spring; there was no room to build up an arsenal of food in the fall. 

“We got this huge plastic bag’s worth of food, and there was only one thing that wasn’t expired,” Karki said. “We haven’t even thrown everything away yet – that’s how much food we got. It just sucks for us.” 

I visited the shared room of the Nepali students, and I was shocked to see that they still hang onto the bag of expired food. For me, as a domestic student, it makes me realize how lucky I am, especially since I have a car on campus and my family is within close proximity. 

“Who even knows how often the food is donated?” Verma said. “We just assumed that at least most of it would be good to eat and not expired.” 

After hearing Karki and Verma’s story, I don’t think anyone can say that items are regularly donated to the Cupboard. I do believe that people, out of the kindness in their hearts, donate food, but the Cupboard is just so underutilized and the food winds up sitting for months on end. 

According to the Cupboard’s website, the College provides non-perishable food items and hygiene products to the student body. And all Augustana students are welcome to take items from the cupboard, whether they be international or domestic. 

Whether or not some people donate expired food should not be seen as an invalid question in this scenario. I now wonder if some people find whatever food first finds their eyes and decide to bring that to the Cupboard, not checking if it may be expired or not. 

“Are there people at the Cupboard who are checking the dates to see if the food is good or not, or is it just this giant collection of items that the program is collecting?” Karki said. “It’s a rough question, but it’s one we are thinking about.”

Food, as a whole, is a commodity in college. On this campus, the majority of people are far from home, and the money supply isn’t the most fluid. For some, that means placing a heavy reliance on what the dining hall has to offer. 

But apart from the College’s dining services, there should be other services, like the Cupboard, that students can see as this place wherein they’re able to access something that shouldn’t cost anyone anything: food.

Support is wholly vital when it comes to the worries and stresses of eating. At this school, we’re all in need of necessary nutrition, and the Cupboard should serve its purpose of an easily accessible entity, not one that hands out expired food. 

“It’d just be nice if it all were a bit easier, getting food and everything,” Verma said. “When we made this trip, we weren’t looking for a gourmet meal, just snacks that we could fill our room with. But when you get only one thing of chips that has not expired, some things being expired since 2020, it makes it so hard.”

With that being said, some canned goods can still be eaten for several years after the expiration date if they are stored in good condition such as cool and dark places.

I think that, with each service on this campus, no matter what it may be, the College and the great people who run this place incessantly strive to maintain consistency and effectiveness. Bumps in the road come up, though, so it’s important to hold one’s head up and keep the faith, even if what is being supplied seems to lose credibility in students’ eyes.