Coke Grants Reception recognizes student work

The Kitchen Cabinet hosted a congratulations reception for the 2014 Gustavus and Coca-Cola Educational Partnership Grant recipients on April 29 in the Heritage Banquet Room. Opened to the public, the reception featured presentations by each recepient group.

Started in the 2012-2013 academic year, the Gustavus and Coca-Cola Educational Partnership Grant is awarded to projects that promote health and sustainability on campus.

Director of Dining Service Steve Kjellgren told the story behind the grant, specifically how gustavus convinced Coca-Cola to be more than a beverage provider.

“In 2012, the college needed to renew a contract with the beverage provider, so we sent out something called request for proposals. What we asked them to consider was not only providing good, high quality drinks and good service, but how can they partner with the college in our educational mission or in our environmental stewardship mission? Coke responded with their proposal to us. Part of their package is $20,000  per year, up to the next ten years,” Kjellgren said.

The partnership soon became a model for other colleges in the nation.

“It’s a very unique partnership we have with Coca-Cola. It’s the only one in the nation that has built this part into the beverage contract with the college. And there are lots of colleges now working on incorporating it,” Kjellgren said.

The ten projects awarded this academic year are Power Assist Ride Share Bike Research, Mental Health Wellness Fair, Gustavus Wellbeing Fair, Mission Nutrition, Take the Hill Triathlon, Gusties Update Lund, Light Switches, Arriving Alive Tour, Stress Free Finals, and Post-Impact: Life after a post Traumatic Brain Injury.

Librarian Mary Anderson oversees the budget of the Stress Free Finals project. She pointed out the intent of the project.

“The library tends to be a place of stress during finals week with everyone studying. We wanted to make it a place of fun and relaxation as well,” Anderson said.

The project will provide numerous activities during the week of finals, including miniature golf by SAVE, Trivia by GSNA, and Glow Yoga by Peer Assistants. Psi Chi has created a brochure, “Stress Management and Relaxation for the Busy College Student,” that includes mindfulness tips, breathing techniques, and a list of free relaxation apps. Pound Pals will also bring over therapy dogs, and the library will host Stress Buster Activities and invite massage therapists over.

Librarian Michelle Twait wrote the grant for this project and also helped bring all of these organizations together.

“Last year, Psi Chi, the honor society for psychological science applied for and received one of these Coca-Cola grants to add more of the seasonal affective disorder lights. Since they had done a project with the library before, when we talked about stress free finals event, we thought psych students would be interested and have some ideas about stress relievers. So we initially talked to them, and then we kind of just expanded to other groups from there,” Twait said.

 A relaxation room, located on the second floor of the library, has been put to use as part of the project, relieving the daily stress of the campus. Anderson estimates that about fifty  people use the relaxation room every week. She also shared some comments written by students, such as:

“There is a whole room of wonder back there,” suggesting that the relaxation room has received positive feedback among students.

Kjellgren encouraged people who have projects in line with the intent of the grant to apply. He will send out emails to the whole campus. The application process for the grant of next year will start in the early fall.

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