“I would starve until dinner time before I knew about the pantry…”

Jayhawk Pantry offers MCC students food, home supplies, or general aid

Kaelyn Sourya, Contributing Writer

Around 39% of over 20 million undergraduate college students are low-income, according to Feeding America (August 2021). This means that millions of people, including some right here at MCC, suffer from the dilemma of paying rent or buying groceries. The statistics become real when it includes one of your own peers experiencing this hardship. Food insecurity is one issue that the MCC community faces, currently.

The Jayhawk Pantry is a resource for MCC students to receive any food, home supplies, or aid in general. It is located in the Jayhawk Hub, a center that provides MCC students in need with the necessary means for success. The aim of the Jayhawk Pantry is to “alleviate food hardship among students by providing emergency food to MCC students in need.”

Maaike Mudde, Jayhawk Hub Coordinator and current Jayhawk Pantry Facilitator, recalled the events before the pantry in 2016, involving a generous teacher keeping bread and peanut butter in her room. Mudde expanded on the pantry’s history. Sally Birkham, previous Dean of Student Services, “started collecting some food in the back of the library, and then it expanded to the Jayhawk Hub across the hallway from the planetarium to the Tutoring Center.”

As a surplus of individuals has experienced, the COVID-19 pandemic put a hamper on the project that was underway. Although Jayhawk pantry staff members implemented a curbside pick-up, it was difficult for the student outreach while the campus was shut down. Each student that the Jayhawk Hub served, utilized the center an average of five times during the Fall 2021 semester. “The food pantry was used 224 times in Fall 2021,” according to the Fall 2021 Semester Report. Despite the obstacles, Mudde was designated as the new Jayhawk Hub Coordinator and main facilitator for the pantry. “Starting this Fall, it is back in action. Back functioning,” said Mudde.

An anonymous November Jayhawk Hub User stated, “I would starve until dinner time before I knew about the pantry… I get all of my meals for each day here.” Several Jayhawk Hub users have also expressed their gratitude for the pantry in desperate times during the holidays through the pandemic. Emily Merten, MCC College Completion Coach, and AmeriCorps member said, “My goal with these students is to help them complete their degree or certificate and the Jayhawk Pantry is one of many resources I can connect my students with to help ease barriers to their success at MCC.”

Currently, the Jayhawk Pantry only receives about 15 donations a month, which is much less sufficient than the 85 times the pantry was utilized during January 2022 alone. Most of these donations often come from the same faces of staff and faculty members.

The Michigan Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), previously food stamps, also help those in need. However, “the qualifications can be a little tight, and some students are struggling with buying food, but they don’t qualify for SNAP and that is where the food pantry comes in,” Mudde explained. The Jayhawk Pantry is currently looking towards partnerships with other outreach programs such as Feeding America, for food drives and extra donations.

“Restocking the pantry before the Summer or Winter would be a beneficial time to host a food drive. It helps to have a holiday or theme grounding the food drive… a Spring-cleaning food drive would be a good idea for those who are interested in helping out,” Mudde highlighted.

For students looking to make a difference (other than donating supplies or gift cards), the pantry is looking for a student worker interested in a work-study job. You can contact Maaike Mudde at [email protected] or (231) 777-0383 for a paid volunteer position. The Jayhawk Pantry is currently taking donations in Room 2046. The pantry is open Monday through Thursday, 8 am to 5 pm. If you or anyone you know has a little extra to give for the benefit of the Jayhawk community, please consider donating.