Dietetics Student Donates 438 Pounds of Produce To Food Pantry


Alyssa Walker

Document Type

News Article

Publication Date


Campus Unit

College of Nursing & Professional Disciplines


University of North Dakota sophomore Dietetics student, Erin Lauckner harvested more than fresh produce this fall, she also harvested certainty and hope for many Grand Forks families who suffer from hunger. This summer, Lauckner planted a large garden and donated 438 pounds of produce to the food pantry at St. Joseph’s Social Care in Grand Forks.

Lauckner became aware of how many people in the community are in need of food during her time volunteering with her follow Nutrition & Dietetics classmates last fall at Project Connect, a one day event that connects low income individuals with Grand Forks service providers. According to the non-profit, Feeding America, the food insecurity rate is at 10.4% in Grand Forks County which effects 6,990 individuals. Lauckner was “disheartened” by the food insecurity of those living in her community and thought she could help make a difference by donating her time to growing a garden that would benefit those in need.

After consulting with her advisor, Doris Wang, about her idea to grow a garden to benefit a food pantry, Lauckner contacted St. Joseph’s Social Care in early spring and asked if they took donations of fresh produce. St. Joseph’s informed her that several people in the community bring in their extra produce and that they appreciate the donations. So, with a donation location in mind, Erin rented a 22 by 40 foot plot of land from All Seasons Garden Center in south Grand Forks and with the help of her parents and boyfriend, she grew an assortment of plants including; cabbage, peppers, chives, tomatoes, cucumbers, squash, edible pumpkins, carrots, beets, eggplant, summer squash, potatoes, and more! Lauckner estimates that it took her about 55 hours to plant the garden, tend to it, and harvest the produce, which according to her was a small amount of time to give back to those in need.

The fruits of her labor did not go unnoticed, Lauckner posted a small sign in the garden that read the name of UND’s student organization, the Student Association for Nutrition & Dietetics (SAND), and many of those who passed the garden recognized the name of the organization and struck up a conversation with Erin about the UND Nutrition & Dietetics program and her plans for the garden’s produce. She was excited that not only could her garden provide food to those who are food insecure but she could also bring attending to UND’s Nutrition and Dietetics program.

Cultivation of a large garden may seem like a lot of work for some but gardening is second nature for Lauckner who has a history of tending to plants. Growing up on a farm in Kramer, ND certainly helped her develop her harvesting skills, however it was helping in her neighbor’s greenhouse that really gave her a green thumb. After high school, Lauckner went on to receive a Horticulture and Forestry degree from MSU-Bottineau (now Dakota College at Bottineau) and worked in greenhouses in Fargo and Minot. She stepped away from the planting business for a while as she worked in the insurance industry for ING in Minot and Minneapolis but after a family health scare, she came back to North Dakota and realized that she wanted to major in Dietetics so that she could help others live healthier lifestyles. Lauckner transferred to UND in 2014 and has enjoyed the faculty and students in the Nutrition and Dietetics program. She appreciates the personal relationships and support that the faculty provide to help students reach their goals.

When asked how others can assist in solving the food shortage problems in Grand Forks, Lauckner suggested organizing a food drive or donating to various food drives that take place throughout the year, like the March food drive that SAND organizes for National Nutrition Month. She also encourages people to volunteer at the food banks as they are always looking for volunteers to help stock shelves and organize food.

“I hope it makes a difference,” Lauckner stated, “Food insecurities are not always visible and we don’t always know people’s situations, so I hope that it helped people in our community.”