Students get down to food-pantry businessYoung-and-eager business consultants visited the River Falls Community Food Pantry last week to listen, learn and begin a semester-long project of service to help the non-profit organization.
By: Debbie Griffin, River Falls Journal
Young-and-eager business consultants visited the River Falls Community Food Pantry last week to listen, learn and begin a semester-long project of service to help the non-profit organization.
Chippewa Valley Technical College instructor Julie Cross says the young people are business students pursuing a two-year degree and who are in a project-management class.
The working group involves several clusters of classmates who will help, but all students share the same main objectives.
One is to help the food pantry develop promotional materials and raise awareness. Another is to hold a food drive at CVTC.
Cross said, “They’re coordinating to get faculty and staff to donate.”
She continued that students will spend time working on the project both in the classroom and at the food pantry.
Last week the first group made its initial visit. Cross said other student groups will also visit the North Main Street location and help with the project.
Their instructor says each student will volunteer at least three hours of personal time to work at the RFCFP.
“It’s an applied learning experience,” said Cross.
CVTC student Angela Seifert said she had never been to the food pantry before last week and that she began having ideas as soon as Director Janna Carl explained RFCFP’s operational plan and mission.
Seifert said two of the team members who visited last week have experience working in a grocery store, which can be used to the food pantry’s advantage.
Student Kelsey Grant was excited about helping with the project, especially after arriving for the first visit. She thinks the food pantry is a great community asset.
Director Carl says RFCFP eagerly anticipates the students’ ideas, which they’ll present at the end of their 16-week semester in December. She said it will be good to continue the momentum the pantry has been building since it moved from its former location on Oct. 4 last year.
“Their fresh perspective will be great,” she said.
Carl explained the need for volunteers not only to stock food and do the other physical activities that keep the RFCFP going, but also to help develop promotional materials like brochures.
For example, she explained to the group that she’d been asked by the First National Bank if RFCFP would like to have a promotional booth at its upcoming fun run/walk.
Though Carl jumped at the opportunity, one of her first thoughts was “Boy, it sure would be nice to have a brochure or something at the table…”
Students will “shadow” her on a shift to see how everything works. The director said she’ll seek help on how to present the food pantry’s mission in an interesting, fun way.
Carl said another thing the students will do is develop a digital slide-show presentation that she can use during speaking engagements.
Carl said marketing and promotions are some of the ways to help the food pantry. She’s been developing a few “new” avenues of volunteerism -- for example painting the RFCFP’s windows for the holidays or donating some gently used holiday decorations.
Asked about the “state of pantry,” Carl responds that the nonprofit organization is just coming out of what is typically its slowest time of year for donations and volunteers -- June, July and August.
She said while no one is seriously worried yet, pantry volunteers are watching the numbers closely to be sure things stay on track.
Contact RFCFP by calling 715-425-6880, emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Send U.S. mail to P.O. Box 341 in River Falls or visit at 222 N. Main St., Suite C. Learn more about the food pantry at its website: www.rfcfp.org.