Luther College partners with Sodexo to further reduce food waste

Luther College is partnering with Sodexo to employ a data-driven program to further reduce food waste.

Luther College Cafeteria lunch service

Luther’s partnership with Sodexo is part of the WasteWatch powered by Leanpath Program. This program’s goal is to prevent an average of 50% of their food waste. Through their partnership with schools and other companies like Luther, Sodexo will be able to capture data on how, where and why food is being wasted, so they can develop and implement operational and behavioral changes that will help put an end to avoidable food waste.

“We have always tracked kitchen waste and have reduced it considerably over the past number of years. This has meant daily manual calculations of weights and costs and not always having the facts and figures at your fingertips,” said Wayne Tudor, general manager for the Luther College Norse Culinary Team. “We will still do the weighing of waste after each meal as we do now but it will now be entered into a tablet to be tracked in an online program that will store historical information and point out trends and issues as they arise.”

Sodexo’s goal is to expand the program to all relevant Sodexo sites by the year 2025, in an effort to cut their food waste and losses from its operations in half by the same year.

Luther senior, Nick Schanstra, a management major and communication studies minor, is a Future Leader Intern at the college through Sodexo and is heading up the WasteWatch system on campus. He describes the impact of this project on the Luther community as one more way to make Luther the most sustainable campus possible.

“Through deeply driven analytics, we can pinpoint exact food types that are overproduced and then curb the waste—making Luther’s food production more efficient. Food waste will be looked at differently in the future because of the added data. Here at Luther, we tracked all the waste before WasteWatch, however, it was not backed by computer analysis,” said Schanstra.

“This is just one example of how we can use technology to assist in our mission to control waste and achieve a more sustainable tomorrow,” said Tudor.

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations states that approximately one-third of food produced globally for human consumption goes to waste. This is an unsettling statistic in relation to the ones depicting the number of people, approximately 820 million, who suffered from undernourishment in 2018. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN also states that there is more than enough food being produced in the world to feed everyone on the planet, so if we as a global community are able to reduce our food waste by half, the amount of food available to the malnourished would increase substantially.

“We need to accelerate the fight against food waste for the sake of humanity and in light of hunger worldwide. The rapid deployment of WasteWatch powered by Leanpath is our rally cry across Sodexo to do our part, while empowering our clients and the consumers we serve. We must track how much food is discarded at each and every one of our food service sites – and we are committed to make these figures public to bring a sense of urgency and motivate us to always do better,” said Denis Machuel, Sodexo chief executive officer. “Beyond data, the program is a revolutionary approach to food services. Our chefs, supply experts, site managers and frontline teams are trained and encouraged to think creatively and innovate in the way we plan, use and serve food to reduce avoidable waste.”

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at

Luther College professor’s collaboration leads to PEN Literary Award

DECORAH, Iowa — Nancy Gates Madsen, professor of Spanish at Luther College, and Dr. Kristin Dykstra, Saint Michaels’ College distinguished scholar in residence, have been awarded the 2020 PEN Literary Award for Poetry in Translation. Host of the 2020 award ceremony, Seth Meyers, described the ceremony as “The Oscars for books.”

Winning the award was “absolutely thrilling and delightful,” says Gates Madsen. “I am deeply honored to have played a part in this literary endeavor.”

Founded in 1996, the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation recognizes book-length translations of poetry from any language into English. Recognized for their work on the collection “The Winter Garden Photograph” by Cuban poet Reina María Rodríguez, principal translator Dykstra and co-translator Gates Madsen worked to maintain the artistry and accuracy of the original poems while translating from Spanish to English. A dozen co-translated poems appear in the collection; Dykstra independently translated the remainder of the book.

“When translating poetry you are writing a new poem in English that has a life of its own, while still being faithful to the original,” says Gates Madsen. “It is more of an art than a science.”

Judges of the event wrote, “Almost impossibly, the translators negotiate the definitive peculiarities of Rodríguez’s unique phrasing with inspired English versions that neither normalize, dumb-down, nor exoticize the magic of the originals.”

Dykstra and Gates Madsen’s relationship began as students at Wooster Public High School. At Wooster, the two were deeply impacted by their own Spanish teacher, Nydia Roque, and dedicated the award to her.

“Señora Roque was influential for both of us. I would not be a Spanish professor if it were not for her,” says Gates Madsen. “I have tried to channel Señora Roque in my own teaching; just as she helped expand the limits of my world, it is my hope that I can also expand the limits of my students’ world through language.”

Gates Madsen also highlights the importance of institutions not only allowing, but encouraging and supporting professors in exploring a wide array of research avenues. It’s one of the many reasons she enjoys teaching at Luther.

“My interests are wide ranging, and I am always mindful of how the research I do can be brought into the classroom,” says Gates Madsen. “My vocation is teaching. It’s one of the reasons I chose to come to an institution such as Luther.”

Dykstra and Gates Madsen’s winning book can be found here:

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at


New Minowa Players Seeks Show Directors

Have you been dreaming of directing a show?

It’s time for New Minowa Players to plan our coming season, and we would like to hear from you! Each March the board of directors welcomes submissions from potential directors who would like to direct shows during the next season. Our fiscal year runs July 1 through June 30, so in this case we are requesting proposals for shows which will be performed, July 1, 2020 through June 30, 2021.

Submissions are due by March 31.
Maybe it’s your time to direct!

Follow this link for information and a submission form:

Winneshiek Medical Center Auxiliary Hosting Scratch Cupcakery Sale

Do you like a sweet treat now and then? Order mouth-watering cupcakes through the Winneshiek Medical Center Auxiliary’s Scratch Cupcakery sale!


Through March 20, 2020, the WMC Auxiliary is selling Scratch Cupcakery cupcakes. Karla Bakken, liaison to the WMC Auxiliary says, “The cupcakes arrive frozen, ready for you to thaw and serve at your convenience.” The cupcakes, which are packaged in cartons of six, will arrive to WMC and be ready for pick-up at the East Entrance on Friday, April 10 between 4 – 6 pm.


Each six-pack of Scratch Cupcakery cupcakes sells for $15-20 and contains an assortment of delicious flavors. To order, visit the secure online store at or call Karla Bakken at 563-387-3036.


Proceeds from all Auxiliary fund raisers, including profits from the WMC Gift Shop, benefit Winneshiek Medical Center by supporting program and equipment needs, as well as the Auxiliary Health Care Career Scholarship.


Scratch Cupcakery is a locally-owned small business in Iowa. To find out more about Scratch Cupcakery, visit

Luther College students named Peace Scholars

DECORAH, Iowa — Luther College juniors Kim Chham and Levi Bird have been selected as Peace Scholars for the 2019-20 academic year. The pair will spend six weeks studying peace and dialogue in Lillehammer and Oslo, Norway.

Luther is one of six colleges founded by Norwegian-American immigrants in the 19th century that participate in the annual summer Peace Scholars program in Norway. The program, an outgrowth of the Nobel Peace Prize Forum held in Minneapolis, is designed to deepen students’ understanding of the central issues and theories regarding conflict, war and peace.

After an application and interview process, students selected for the Peace Scholars program will study in Norway from June 14 to July 31. Scholars begin their studies in Lillehammer, at the Nansen Center for Peace and Dialogue for five days. During their time at Nansen, students are participant-observers in structured dialogue sessions with students from the Balkans and Ukraine.

The program continues at the University of Oslo’s International Summer School, where students participate in a course of their choice and the Peace Scholars Seminar. This rigorous academic course introduces interdisciplinary peace studies, exploring their theoretical and empirical aspects.

During their stay in Norway, students are required to blog regularly about their studies and experiences. Access to the blogs will be available through When the Peace Scholars return to the U.S., they are asked to play a leadership role in peace activities on their home campuses.


Kim Chham ’21

Kim Chham, daughter of Kimhour Orm and Sin Chham of Cambodia, is a 2016 graduate of United World College of Southeast Asia. She plans to graduate in 2021 with a degree in international studies with a peace studies track.

Chham, who is currently studying away in Malta for the semester, shared her excitement for the program and the opportunity to meet other young people with a shared passion.

“I am looking forward to learning more about peacebuilding methods, especially dialogue. I hope to learn more about myself regarding my place in this field, where I can apply my strengths most effectively and look for areas of growth to become a more well-rounded peacebuilder,” said Chham.


Levi Bird ’21

  Levi Bird, son of Sarah and Jeremy Bird of Muscoda, Wisconsin, is a 2017 graduate of Riverdale High School. He plans to graduate in 2021 with a degree in Nordic studies and a minor in writing.

Bird says he has been looking forward to returning to Norway and that becoming a Peace Scholar fulfills many of his dreams for the future.

“I can’t express how much of a privilege it is for me to have this opportunity for growth, and I can’t wait to bring back what I’ve learned to Luther’s campus to help foster transformative dialogue on campus,” said Bird.

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at


Luther College announces grants of tenure and promotions

Luther College President Jenifer K. Ward and Dean of the College Kevin Kraus have announced promotions and grants of tenure for current faculty members.

At its Feb. 7-8 meeting in Decorah, the Luther Board of Regents approved tenure for Brittany Cord, accounting and management; Maren Johnson, Nordic studies; and Tommy Occhipinti, mathematics. The three were also promoted to associate professor.

The tenure process occurs in the sixth year of a faculty member’s service. The process involves student evaluations, department evaluation, evaluation by a faculty committee and approval by the dean, the president and the Board of Regents.

The Board of Regents also announced the promotion of Molly McNicoll, biology, to associate professor and Eric Baack, biology, and Britt Rhodes, social work, to full professors. The promotion to full professor involves student, department, faculty committee, dean and president review.

“These six are all fantastic teachers,” says Kraus. “They are knowledgeable, enthusiastic and caring faculty who challenge and support our students.”

Brittany Cord

Brittany Cord, economics, accounting and management, has taught at Luther since 2014. She holds a bachelor’s degree in accounting from the University of Iowa and a master of business administration degree from Texas A&M University, Kingsville.

Cord currently teaches at all levels within the accounting major. Her research interests include writing cases for use in the accounting and management classrooms as well as in team-based learning pedagogy. In collaboration with fellow Luther colleagues Britt Rhodes and

Alexandra White, Cord created the summer Social Impact Fellowship. This fellowship connects Luther students within the social work and accounting/management disciplines with Decorah community organizations to help solve a problem or fill a need.

Maren Johnson

Maren Anderson Johnson has been a member of the Nordic studies program and modern languages, literatures and linguistics department since 2014. Johnson received her bachelor’s degree in Norwegian language and literature from Pacific Lutheran University and her master’s and doctoral degrees in Scandinavian language and literature from the University of Washington-Seattle.

Johnson teaches courses in Norwegian language as well as Nordic culture and literature, including seminars on Henrik Ibsen and Nordic television. She has also co-taught seminars with colleagues in environmental studies.

Her research focuses on the contemporary interpretation of Henrik Ibsen’s work, contemporary television in Norway and participatory pedagogy in the language classroom. In addition to her teaching and research, Johnson also serves as the inaugural director of the Richard L. and Judith A. Torgerson Center for Nordic Studies, an academic and program center with the mission of strengthening and enhancing Luther’s ties to Norway.

Tommy Occhipinti

Tommy Occhipinti has been a professor in the math department since 2015. Courses he regularly teaches include calculus, combinatorics and a mathematical reasoning and writing course.

Occhipinti earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics and economics from the University of Maryland Baltimore County and a doctoral degree in mathematics from the University of Arizona. He is hoping to continue a collaborative research project with students this summer on a conjecture popularized by Matt Parker about sequences of integers whose consecutive terms differ by squares. 

Molly McNicoll

Molly McNicoll is a professor in the biology department. She teaches biology, conservation and environmental studies courses and enjoys leading study abroad programs, most recently in Tanzania and Ecuador.

As the natural areas land manager for Luther, McNicoll conducts ecological restoration and research with students on Luther’s 700+ acres of woods, prairies and other native habitats. Her research and stewardship work has been funded at the national level by the American Association of University Women, the Monticello Fund and through partnerships with friends of the college.

McNicoll earned her bachelor’s degree at the University of Wisconsin at Madison and her master’s and doctorate degrees from the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.

Eric Baack

Eric Baack has been a professor in the biology department since 2007. He teaches courses in biostatistics, evolutionary biology and the ecology of the American Southwest. Baack’s research examines plant ecology and evolution, including the origin of plant species and hybridization between crops and their wild relatives. As the Rulon Chair in Biology from 2016 to 2019 he studied microbial contaminants of recreational waters in Northeast Iowa.

Baack earned his bachelor’s degree in philosophy from Carleton College, his master’s degree in teaching from Lewis and Clark College and a doctoral degree in population biology from the University of California, Davis.

Britt Rhodes

Britt Rhodes, social work, has been at Luther since 2006 and has served as the social work program director since 2016. Rhodes holds a bachelor’s degree from Luther College, a master’s of social work degree from Augsburg College and a doctoral degree in social work from the University of St. Thomas/St. Catherine University School of Social Work.

Rhodes teaches introduction to social work, social work field experience, research methods and social work practice courses. Her current research interests focus on adverse childhood experiences, trauma-informed care and contemplative practices in higher education. Rhodes most recent publication, “Trauma Informed Contemplative Pedagogy,” explores the role of contemplative practices to mediate trauma-related stress for beginning social workers.

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at


From Left to right: Brittany Cord, Eric Baack, Molly McNicoll, Maren Johnson, Britt Rhodes, Tommy Occhipinti

The winners of “Singing with the Broadway Stars” are announced

The winners of “Singing with the Broadway Stars” have been announced. Luther College senior Bailey Fields will appear in this Friday’s Center Stage Series performance of “Neil Berg’s 101 Years of Broadway.”

Winner, Bailey Fields, is a senior from Mantorville, Minn., and will graduate in May with a theatre major and a musical theatre minor. Bailey is also a member of Collegiate Chorale and studies voice with Dr. Gary Moss.

Runner up, Emma Forsyth, is a 17-year-old from Houston High School. She studies voice with Rachel Storlie, alumni guest lecturer of music at Luther College. Emma is active in competitive dance and with high school theater.

Both the winner and runner-up will join the cast of five Broadway stars, performing hits from the best of American musical theater in this dazzling revue. The performance is Friday, Feb. 14, at 7:30pm in the Main Hall of Luther’s Center for Faith and Life. Tickets are available at, or 563.387.1357.

Luther College and Northeast Iowa Community College partner to create an A.A. to B.A. Social Work Transfer Pathway

Luther College and Northeast Iowa Community College are partnering in an effort to meet growing workforce needs in the social work field.

President Ward and President Wee surrounded by social work students and faculty

On Thursday, Feb. 6, Luther President Jenifer K. Ward and NICC President Liang Chee Wee signed the articulation agreement, creating an A.A. to B.A. Social Work Transfer Pathway. This transfer pathway will provide students the opportunity to complete an A.A. at NICC with credits that directly transfer to Luther, allowing them to obtain their B.A. in social work in only two additional years.

“This partnership signals an important step in advancing Luther’s strategic plan initiative to create new Iowa and Minnesota community college transfer pathways and improve institutional capacity for transfer student success,” said President Ward. “I am grateful to our faculty and staff and to our counterparts at NICC for the work that enables us to collaborate in ways that benefit both our students and the communities they will serve as social workers in northeast Iowa and beyond.”

NICC students who enroll in the program will complete a two-year sequence of courses and would begin at Luther as juniors. During their study at NICC, students would also complete two social work courses offered by Luther.

“Northeast Iowa Community College’s mission aims to improve lives and lift communities.Our partnership with Luther College enables both institutions to combine our efforts to enhance the students’ preparations for the betterment of those they will serve in their calling,” said President Wee.

A 2019 report conducted by The University of Iowa and the National Association of Social Workers Iowa Chapter found that the social work workforce is projected to grow in Iowa between 15% and 22% from 2016 to 2026. The report states that “schools of social work have a role to play in strengthening recruitment to meet critical workforce needs.” Britt Rhodes, associate professor of social work at Luther, agrees.

“We have a responsibility to those living in our state and region to provide the highest quality professional social work services and one of the ways we can do that is by opening additional pathways for students to pursue a career in social work,” said Rhodes.

Luther has a long history of educating social workers. According to Rhodes, work began to establish Luther’s program in 1973. By 1976, the program was accredited and has been ever since.

“Work on this began in 1973 because we had creative faculty who saw value in adding a professional track to the offerings at the college,” said Rhodes. “I think this partnership represents an extension of that creative thinking and attention to what are students are looking for.”

The new social work transfer pathway joins a group of more than 10 similar transfer agreements established by NICC and four-year institutional partners. NICC currently offers A.A. and A.S. transfer programs in biology, business, criminal justice, psychology and sociology.

To get started, visit

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at

Northeast Iowa Community College (NICC) serves more than 5,900 students in eight counties in northeast Iowa, surrounding areas and online offering academic programs of study in a variety of disciplines, in addition to online and blended learning, customized business and industry training, short-term certification options and adult education and literacy.The college is committed to affordable, high-quality education and training to ensure the growth and vitality of northeast Iowa. More information is available at

Luther College announces significant academic center expansion in Rochester, Minnesota

The Rochester Semester allows students to engage in high-impact, career-centered learning

From real-world internships to meaningful active learning opportunities, Luther College is enhancing its student experience by significantly expanding programming in Rochester, Minnesota. The Rochester Semester will launch as Luther’s spring 2020 semester opens on Wednesday, Feb. 5. This new program is open to all majors and will take advantage of the exciting opportunities available just 65 miles from Decorah.

The Rochester area is home to more than 1,000 Luther alumni and friends employed in diverse and important fields. Drawing on those connections, Luther students participating in the spring 2020 semester will have immersive learning opportunities at the Gift of Life Transplant House, the Rochester Diversity Council, Destination Medical Center and City of Rochester Sustainability, as well as in a number of areas within the Mayo Clinic, including biomedical research, biomedical informatics, finance and information technology.

“These experiences will enable students to build practical skills, gain diverse perspectives and form valuable networks, preparing them to be competitive for the next step in their lives,” said Jodi Enos-Berlage, Rochester Semester director and associate dean for integrated academic and career development. “However, the most powerful outcome of these experiences is that students will be able to discover the types of work, contributions and interactions that energize them, and just as importantly, those that do not, while they are still in college. They can use what they learn to help shape their next step, putting them in a better position to navigate towards a life and career that will not only be professionally rewarding but also purposeful.”

For the first time, Luther students studying in Rochester will live under one roof in housing arranged by the college. Further, students enrolled in the Rochester Semester program will take two place-based, community-engaged courses taught by Luther faculty members in classroom space at Zumbro Lutheran Church.

In one course, The Mutable City, students will ask big questions and use an ethical lens to examine the challenges associated with rapid urban change. The focus will be on Rochester, which is expected to experience major population and economic growth over the next 20 years due to the $5 billion Destination Medical Center project. In a second course, Writing in Community, small groups of students will partner with a Rochester non-profit to produce a desired writing product for the organization.

Shana Liu is a junior neuroscience major with a chemistry and music minor. This January she was Luther’s “soft start” Rochester Semester student. Liu began her internship by working full time in a Mayo Clinic neuroscience research lab studying deep brain stimulation treatments.

“The lab I was placed into has been incredibly nurturing, and I’ve already learned so much in a few short weeks. I’ve gotten to observe behavioral experiments, cutting edge analysis technologies and so much more,” said Liu. “This is such a great chance for people to gain professional experience while still in school. I feel very lucky to be able to work beside experts in the neuromodulation field.”

While these immersive experiences are shaping students and their futures, Enos-Berlage points out, the participating organizations have a lot to gain as well.

“These organizations benefit by having a student immersed in a project for the duration of a semester, and possibly longer, increasing their potential to make meaningful contributions,” said Enos-Berlage. “A young person with a fresh perspective can also offer valuable insights to collaborative projects.”

As Enos-Berlage continues her work in paving the road ahead for students studying in Rochester, she welcomes conversations with organizations seeking to learn more about the program. She can be contacted at

At 10:30 a.m. on Feb. 9, Zumbro Lutheran Church will host a special worship service to recognize and celebrate Luther College’s and Zumbro Lutheran Church’s partnership in mission, service and learning in Rochester. Luther College Campus Pastor, Anne Edison-Albright will preach and music will be provided by Luther’s Norskkor choir under the direction of Mark Potvin.

“I’m excited about this event because not only does it serve to formally recognize the launch of a major new initiative for Luther, it provides a wonderful way for members of the Rochester community, and in particular our welcoming partners at Zumbro Lutheran Church, to meet and engage with our Rochester-based students and vice versa,” said Enos-Berlage. “We are deeply grateful for the classroom space, student support and warm hospitality provided to us by Zumbro Lutheran.”

The Rochester Semester program builds on a foundation established nearly 40 years ago by Luther’s highly-regarded nursing program. For decades, nursing majors have spent their entire third year in Rochester, gaining valuable clinical experience at Mayo Medical Center and its affiliated hospitals.

To learn more about Luther’s academic center in Rochester and the exciting opportunities available through the Rochester Semester visit

Luther College is home to more than 1,900 undergraduates who explore big questions and take action to benefit people, communities and society. Our 60+ academic programs, experiential approach to learning and welcoming community inspire students to learn actively, live purposefully and lead courageously for a lifetime of impact. Learn more at

NEW! Driftless Community Dance

We want to grow the social dance scene in the area (like swing dancing, two step, salsa, the waltz…).  Fun live music often performs in our area but when it comes to social partner dancing only a handful of people know or feel comfortable enough to partner dance.  Let’s change that!  Let’s connect to learn/practice new dance moves, attend/offer dance lesson before a band starts, or share when you know of events with live music that is great for parter dancing.  All are welcome, whether you brand new to social partner dancing or have been dancing since you could walk.

Email us to get connected at:

~ Kyra Bellrichard & Phil Schmidt, Organizers of Driftless Community Dance


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