Pa Her, a Business Management major at Augsburg University is a respected public leader on campus. She is passionate about community building, equity, and food justice, and these passions have informed her work. Pa is dedicated member of Augsburg’s Campus Kitchen and Campus Cupboard teams. In response to food insecurity made worse by the pandemic, Pa and the team built new partnerships with food providers and community-based organizations to make fresh, healthy food available to neighbors and students. Pa shows up to work every day eager to collaborate, solve problems, and do whatever is needed to best serve students and our surrounding community. This year Pa led Augsburg’s work on a National Institute of Food and Agriculture grant through the USDA which is a collaboration with two other local universities. Pa met regularly with project leaders, designed workshops for the whole team, and kept the team at Augsburg updated. Her collaborative leadership style suits this complex role as she takes others' opinions into account, garners feedback before making decisions, leads by example, and consistently looks for ways to help the whole team function better. Her creative ideas ignite important conversations.
Before college, grocery stores’ food and my grandparents’ garden of vegetables commonly known in the Hmong community was my only knowledge about food. Food insecurity was a social issue that I was not aware of due to the misconception that a wealthy nation, like the United States, would have an abundant amount available and accessible to everyone. This was not the case when I came to be a part of the Campus Kitchen team through the Augsburg Leaders for Equity, Action, and Democracy program. Through our work of providing free community meals and distributing fresh food to the community surrounding Augsburg University, I learned about the lack of accessibility to healthy nutritious food, food waste, food safety, and that majority of college students struggle with being food insecure. In addition to having a student food shelf on campus, I also participated in initiating SNAP Benefits for Augsburg students. As the Augsburg fellow in the National Institute of Food and Agriculture program, I also worked alongside two fellow students from neighboring private institutions and an Iowa & Minnesota Campus Compact Project Director where the work was focused on food access research, advocacy, and service through organizing a series of quarterly workshops.