CMU food pantry for students in need

$12,445. A full time student’s estimated charge for a single semester at Central Michigan University (CMU). $9.25. Minimum wage and standard pay for entry level positions available to students on and off campus. 37.8% of citizens in Mt. Pleasant, MI are living beneath the poverty line, according to the statistics collected by the U.S. Census Bureau.

The student food pantry was created by the CMU Student Government Association (SGA) and the Volunteer center in November. The coordination is a reaction to a campus-wide survey uncovering that 30% of students at CMU were experiencing food insecurity. Since opening in November, the university has raised over $34,000 in support of the food bank through phone-based-donations.

There are no requirements or specifications for students to receive food. Anyone can register online for free.  After taking a set of stairs located behind Robinson hall, students are welcomed at a sign-in table and asked to present their CMU ID card. Next, they’re directed into a storage room of food where volunteers wait to help them carry and collect their items.

The food bank is open every other Tuesday and Wednesday, 4-6 p.m. Different volunteers sign up each session. Some are volunteering to meet a requirement for classes and others like Rachel Fritti, 21, a CMU senior studying Community Health, are intrigued by the new addition. After signing up online Fritti reported for her first shift Tuesday. “One thing I noticed right away as I started working was the allergen free area. Yay for inclusivity!” Fritti exclaimed.

Moving forward, the student board (made up of seven members) wishes to coordinate the schedule so doors would be open every day for the convenience of students in need. The university purchases food from the Greater Lansing Food Bank (GLFB) in bulk at $0.18/lb for canned food, and $0.35 for fresh produce. Next year they hope to have a system in place where community members and other students can donate items directly in Robinson hall.

Kourtney Koch, 22, CMU student pursuing a MD in higher education administration, serves as the coordinator of the food pantry. “I’ve learned a lot about starting something from the ground up. There are so many people behind the scenes making this work. Each week we see more students, and some of the same returning.” said Koch.

In total, the food bank has served over 300 hundred students and 3,000 pounds of food.