#MyCarletonSummer: Mabel Frank ’19

How did Carls spend their summers? We chat with Mabel Frank, a senior sociology/anthropology major from Evanston, Illinois.

Oct. 9, 2018

Mabel Frank

What did you do over the summer?

I spent my summer in Minneapolis at Open Arms of Minnesota, which is a nonprofit that cooks and delivers free, nutritious meals to people living with life-threatening illnesses. The organization began in 1986 when founder Bill Rowe began cooking meals out of his apartment for his friends living with AIDS, and since then has grown to deliver more than half a million meals a year to over 1,000 clients living with various illnesses as well as their caregivers and dependents.

When I wasn't helping out at Open Arms, I was working at Pumphouse Creamery, a farm-to-frozen (all natural, organic, and locally-sourced ingredients) ice cream shop, taking advantage of free summer ice cream and sweet tips!

How did you decide to do this/how did this opportunity present itself?

I decided I wanted to give Minneapolis and nonprofit work a try, and from there it was just a matter of finding a food justice-oriented organization, as based on my past research and work in the SOAN department. While there are many such organizations in Minneapolis, the mission of Open Arms stood out to me: “with open arms, we nourish body, mind and soul” — as well as their vision: “a world of abundance where people who are sick won't go hungry.”

I knew I wanted to be a part of an organization that recognized nutrition and good ingredients as an integral part of their mission in helping those who most need food as medicine.

Tell me about the position.

I was a nonprofit intern, which meant I did whatever was needed of me around the organization while learning about the everyday functions of a nonprofit. There was no typical day at Open Arms, as I could arrive in the morning and find out I was going to help with planting at one of our urban farms, going out on delivery to clients, working with volunteers, or painting giant paper maché vegetable costumes.

Throughout the summer I learned about the logistics of nonprofit work, working in high-capacity industrial kitchens, and was always on my feet — running around the building or Minneapolis and St. Paul.

Describe a day in the life.

I would arrive in the morning and get ready for packout, which is the process of organizing a volunteer assembly line that gets the correct medically-tailored meals in the appropriate cooler bags to go out on specific routes with other volunteers. That meant labeling the bags, setting up the assembly line, lifting heavy bags onto carts, and more. 

From there, I would help with volunteer organizing to get all of the routes out on time and with consideration for food safety. Sometimes I'd go out on a delivery myself, other times I would stick around the building to work a shift in the kitchen. And still other times I'd go to an outreach event to represent Open Arms, sell our produce at a farmers market, or work on projects in the client services office. There was no typical day, which I loved!

What was your favorite thing about your job?

The people! Each day I got to interact with so many different faces. Many of the volunteers were regulars — sweet older folks who came to help out every week. My supervisors were young, energetic, and fun and the team of nonprofit interns were all my age. The chefs were especially fun to hang out with, and they always surprised us with tasty treats. I was never on my own and always doing tasks that encouraged chattiness. Not a moment of boredom when you're surrounded by so many great people!

How did Carleton make your summer experience possible?

I received funding from the Class of 1963 endowed fund, which made it possible for me to pursue this unpaid internship. Additionally, I have made great use of the Career Center over the years through externships and career advising. My résumé would be in terrible shape if it weren't for them!