Sustainability Efforts Continue Amidst Pandemic

Sarah Burke, staff writer

This time last year, the Environmental Stewardship committee attended a conference in Washington on sustainability. COVID-19 has since taken its toll on Augsburg’s sustainability efforts. 

Campus Cupboard sent an email on Nov. 13 to all students stating that their free food services will be shutting down until Nov. 27 due to the COVID-19 spike. Natalie Jacobson, the program coordinator for Campus Kitchen, said the shutdown was implemented to be cognizant of the spike and reduce student stress. 

Jacobson said that the focus is to “reduce not eliminate” because the work they do is essential. “It’s really tough because we know this work is important. And we feel bad pausing or reducing anything, but also we need to take care of ourselves.” 

Before the shut down, Campus Cupboard was a space where students could walk in and receive free food and help from student workers. This year, students sent in orders and picked them up from the Urness-Mortensen lobby; 254 orders were sent to Campus Cupboard in the past four weeks. Campus Cupboard would deliver food in the Twin Cities through contactless delivery.

“There was a big relationship,” Jacobson said of Campus Cupboard’s pre-COVID setup. “Getting to know people, building relationships, connecting. So we don’t get to do that anymore, which is really sad,” said Jacobson.

According to Jacobson, the pandemic and political climate has led food insecurity in Cedar-Riverside to increase substantially. The Campus Kitchen has been receiving huge amounts of food in order to meet the needs of community members. 

“Food is really essential to our well-being, and lots of folks both in our neighborhood and off campus are struggling a lot with food insecurity right now,” Jacobson said. “So we’re really happy we can do our part to address that. These are such horrible times. It’s nice to come to work everyday and feel like I am contributing to something.” 

The environmental groups of Augsburg continue to work on making Augsburg a more sustainable place. Daniela Fragale, the chair for the Environmental Stewardship committee, said that COVID-19 makes some things difficult, but everyone should do what they can during these difficult times. 

“Environmentalism is more than just metal straws and like zero waste. It’s impossible to be zero waste. It’s more like how can everyone try their best and figure out what works for them.” 

Augsburg is installing solar panels to work on becoming 50% reliant on solar by 2025 and have plans for putting bird and squirrel feeders all over campus. The Environmental Stewardship committee is starting to hire artists for a new “Sustainability Hall,” an interactive mural in Christensen to learn about sustainability digitally. Last year, they passed an act to achieve complete carbon neutrality by 2030.