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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Students protest against Israel-Hamas war with campus encampment
Dallas WiertellaApril 30, 2024

ASNMU seeks to battle hunger with food pantry

Food insecurity is defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as “a condition when persons do not have adequate resources to feed themselves, either nutritiously, or at all.”

re-chrisgreerThe Associated Students of Northern Michigan University (ASNMU) have passed a resolution written by Connor Loftus, off campus representative, chair of student affairs and head of the project to create a committee that will investigate food insecurities at NMU and use the findings to implement a food access network.

The idea began when a new committee member brought up the food access network currently used by Michigan Tech. Tech instated their food access network last year after the results of a survey sent out in spring 2015 revealed that 26 percent of people polled were hungry within the last 30 days but did not eat because they couldn’t afford food.

“It has been very successful,” Whitney Boroski, the health and wellness coordinator at Michigan Tech, said. “There is three parts: the food pantry, emergency meals and meal swipes.”

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Michigan Tech’s food pantry provides food to students, staff and faculty that are considered to be food insecure. The food provided by the pantry include nonperishable canned foods, soups and granola bars. The pantry also provides hygiene products such as soap and shampoo.

Although the food pantry is open to everyone, a system is used that tracks the demographics of people using the pantry to see who uses it most. This data however, is not seen by the person who is working. The emergency meal program is accessible every day of the week at any time from Tech’s public safety location.

The emergency meals contain three meals and drinks for a full day’s worth of food. This is only meant to get students, staff and faculty by until they can find another food resource or until the food pantry reopens.

“That’s our kind of a Band-Aid for not being open,” Boroski said. “When school is not in session, we are not open. It helps those who stay over breaks instead of going home.”

The meal swipe program at Michigan Tech donates 40 meals per week from dining services. Students may only use one of these meals per day at a maximum of 25 meal swipes per semester.

A new policy was implemented that would have any unused meal swipes not used in 12 days returned to the 40 meals. Although NMU is in the  early stages of development regarding a food access network, progress is already being made. A committee is forming that would include a mix of staff, faculty and student

“There is a lot of work to be done still,” Loftus said. “Once we get the committee together, that is when things will start to fall into place. Then we can start talking to each other and figuring out the logistics of how we are going to do it and where it is going to be.”

Once the committee is formed, the next step would be to create and distribute a survey for NMU students assessing the level of food insecurity.

“There’s a lot of work to be done in order to open a pantry. ASNMU and Loftus, in particular, is getting the process going,” Chris Greer, associate vice president and dean of students at NMU said. “We are very grateful they have chosen this as a project. The university will support it in any way we can.”

At this point, the NMU food access network will be structured similarly to Michigan Tech’s program. The specifics of the network, such as usage limits and funding, will be established by the committee that is being formed.

Obstacles include gathering resources, determining a space and learning how to appropriately conduct food drives. Once these obstacles are overcome, then an opening date for the pantry can be established by the committee.

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