The transition of moving away from home to attend college can be difficult for some students. That’s why Missi Joplin and Jill Long formed Bonus Moms on Campus — to help parents be there for their kids, no matter how far away they are.
Bonus Moms on Campus operates similarly to food and grocery delivery services, with a focus on home-cooked meals, desserts and care packages assembled and delivered by two Springfield moms.
“We love doing this and we have so much fun,” Joplin said. “Our tagline is ‘we love on your kids when you can’t be here,’ and I think that is exactly it — just literally loving on the kids when they’re far away from home, when they’re sad, lonely or something great has happened or it’s a birthday or they just need a home-cooked meal for a pick-me-up. That’s what we do.”
The inspiration behind Bonus Moms on Campus
Joplin and Long were inspired by Moms on Campus CoMo, a similar operation at the University of Missouri. Both with children attending Mizzou, they have used its services to send their kids food and care packages.
“It’s such a great business and so nice to be able to take care of our kids,” Joplin said.
While the recipients of their meals and baskets are students, their clientele is almost exclusively parents.
Parents can place an order through the Linktree website, and Missi and Joplin will make two rounds of deliveries a week — usually meeting students near their dorms, fraternities or sororities, and occasionally off-campus (which requires a delivery fee).
But they have plans to expand their delivery, as they’ve already found themselves making runs on non-delivery days.
While the majority of their customers are at Missouri State University, they said they have made some Drury University deliveries and are willing to go to Springfield’s other colleges.
“We’ve done emergency chicken noodle soup runs on days that we aren’t supposed to deliver, when parents are like, ‘our kids are really sick,’” Long said.
An initial hurdle they had to overcome was convincing students that they could trust them — but they completely understood the skepticism.
“We got a kick out of it because when we first started messaging kids, they wouldn’t answer us,” Long said. “…We learned that us parents did a good job at training the kids, but they now know who we are.”
“Every once in a while, we have a kid that’s like, ‘Yeah, sure, I’m home. Come on over!’”Joplin said laughing, but urged students to not do that.
Joplin and Long, who have been close friends since middle school, didn’t see why a similar business couldn’t do well in Springfield, which is home to numerous colleges and universities. After launching in October 2022 with “Boo Baskets,” their business took off.
They have since garnered nearly 800 Instagram followers and regularly sell out of various baskets and goods.
From chocolate-dipped strawberries to chicken noodle soup, the Bonus Moms have a lot to offer
While food is the name of the game for the Bonus Moms, their baskets are often filled with other things, from socks to straws and gift cards to beverages.
The baskets are primarily associated with holidays — they’ve made them for Halloween, Christmas, and for the upcoming Valentine’s Day — they also found success in a “finals basket.”
“A lot of parents wanted food for their kids to kind of sustain them through finals studying time,” Joplin said. “So we were crazy right before the kids left for Christmas, it was nuts.”
They’ve also put together the occasional baskets that look more like a collection of healthy groceries — parents of some MSU swimmers have employed Bonus Moms to provide their kids with healthy, protein-heavy snack baskets, according to Joplin.
Prices vary based on the size of the basket. In the Valentine’s Day package, for which they’ve already sold out, they had $18 and $35 options. Parents also have the option to add a gift card to Dominoes or Andy’s Frozen Custard for any amount, and it would be added to the cost of the basket.
But it’s their home-cooked meals and desserts that remind students of their homes and from which the name “Bonus” Moms was derived.
On the savory side of the January menu, they have chicken noodle soup and chicken tortilla soup, “walking” tacos, chicken enchiladas, salad, chicken and meatless alfredo, and garlic bread. For dessert, they have brownies, Rice Krispies treats, puppy chow and no-bake cookies for sale.
Specialty Valentine’s goods include a charcuterie box, red velvet cupcakes, cake pops and pretzel rods, cookies and chocolate-covered strawberries.
Prices on homemade items range from $8 to $30.
What being “Bonus Moms” means
“When we first started doing this, we were on campus and everywhere we looked, we saw somebody on the phone with their mom and they looked emotional,” Long said. “It’s just a huge transition to college. It’s a big life change and I think sometimes, as parents, we forget that.”
Even as they continue to grow and reach more students, many have become repeat customers. Joplin and Longs said that students are just happy to see a smiling face and get a “little taste of home.”
“We both spent 23 years being moms,” Joplin said. “…I feel like we are literally ‘bonus’ moms to these kids.”
While enjoying their newfound success and having fun every step of the way, they aren’t stopping, and are beginning to brainstorm ways to grow their business.
“We have lots of big plans,” Long said.