Luther College starts Cafeteria to Community program

Luther College student volunteers and dining service staff teamed up this fall to start a program that will help get good food to those who need it by delivering packaged food to the First Lutheran Church Food Pantry. Representatives from Luther's Center for Sustainable Communities and Dining Services, operated by Sodexo, are excited about the potential for this program to deliver healthy, homemade food into the homes of Northeast Iowans. 

Through Luther's new Cafeteria to Community program, student volunteers work with dining services staff to package food into containers that are labeled and then delivered to the Food Pantry twice weekly. Food donations vary by week but include such items as soup, main entrees, homemade pasta sauce, vegetables and salads from Luther's cafeteria. Luther is committed to buying food from local farmers, ensuring that donations will often contain local ingredients. The temperatures and dates of the donated food are carefully monitored by the kitchen staff to ensure the food is not only delicious, but safe.  

Student groups across campus have worked alongside dining services staff to package food on Monday and Wednesday evenings. To date, 38 students volunteers have packaged a total of 748 containers totaling 1,124 pounds of food.

The program is a good fit for anybody with a passion for service learning, including Luther students, staff, faculty and community members. Those interested in volunteering should visit and submit the volunteer sign-up form.

The First Lutheran Church Food Pantry opened in 1996 to provide food, personal care and household supplies to those in the community who need it. By the winter of 2000, the food pantry was serving approximately 30 clients each month. Over the years the need has increased substantially to the point that the Food Pantry is currently serving 500 clients per month.

The Food Pantry is located in the Parish Hall of First Lutheran Church and is open to anyone who requests its services. Clients will be asked for their name, address, identification and number of members in their family. The hours of the pantry are 1:30-3:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, with extended hours from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.

Those wishing to donate goods to the First Lutheran Church Food Pantry can go to their website at for a list of needed items. Other ways to give include monetary donations, coupons and prayers.