Food insecurity in the Marquette community

Melissa Orzechowksi

Currently 9,660 people in Marquette County—that’s 14.3 percent of the population— face food insecurity. And in our county, 18.6 percent of children face food insecurity. This is something we need to talk about. This is something we need to do something about. I know, fellow students, what it is like to be a broke college student. It’s easy to dismiss thinking about hunger because after all, it seems like we can barely feed ourselves at times.

I’m not asking you to give part of your meager income or search your likely non-existent pantry for canned goods. I’m asking for your attention, your energy and your passion. Children facing hunger in our community is particularly a problem because when kids don’t have enough to eat, it can have detrimental effects in development.

When children are hungry they can’t focus in school and oftentimes have more behavior issues. Beyond that they are more likely to get sick, more likely to be obese and more likely to have continued health problems into their future.

No child in our area should have to struggle with the effects of hunger.

When you enrolled at NMU, you became a member of the Marquette Community. We students are a significant portion of the population and therefore need to have significant impacts on tackling issues in the community we are living in.

Fortunately some dedicated students are already addressing hunger: Cat Packs provides 70 elementary or high school students with meals for the weekend throughout the school year.

The program is staffed by NMU’s volunteer center and they are always looking for volunteers to pack food or for help with fundraising. Marquette Ending Hunger is a student organization on campus that actively works to address hunger issues through their annual Empty Bowls Fundraiser and can-a-thon.

Additionally they raise awareness of hunger annually through the NMU Fight Famine event.

ASNMU is currently developing an on-campus food pantry for NMU students facing food insecurity. Marquette Rotaract Club, also a student organization at NMU, is bringing 15,000 pounds of food, or food for 400 families, in a mobile food pantry on Tuesday, April 18.

These efforts exist because a student like yourself realized they could be a part of the solution to end hunger in Marquette County. These efforts continue because of persistent work. None of these groups are huge. They are small groups of very dedicated students making
an impact.

Ending hunger is not an easy task; that’s why we need the combined passion, energy and work of NMU students. You don’t have to join one of the groups coordinating the work to be part of the solution if you don’t have the time.

Instead, you could get the organization you’re already in to do a benefit event with proceeds benefiting Cat Packs as they need about $300 a week to continue to send healthy food home. You could attend Marquette Ending Hunger’s Empty Bowls event on Friday, April 21. The more involved you get, the larger the impact you have.

There are students already fighting hunger in Marquette, so be one of these students to share the workload and to keep the energy alive to continue the efforts. I’m not asking you to start a new organization or a new annual event; I’m asking you to support the students already actively addressing hunger in Marquette. Volunteer with these students, help them raise funds, attend their events. Be a part of this community by helping this community.