Food pantry continues to feed students

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Junior speech language and hearing sciences major Jessica Podlesak reach- es for an item on a shelf with junior sports science major Maddie Hagg. Photo by: Kat Torreano

Sophie Hillmeyer

The NMU food pantry had its soft opening a little over a year ago, and with the increase in student volunteers and donations it has been growing ever since. The pantry has recently been working with other student groups on campus to create more awareness, Jessica Podlesak, junior speech language and hearing sciences major said.

“[The pantry] has grown exponentially, even since the beginning of the year,” Podlesak said. “It is good that we’re here and I know that we’re doing a lot more to get the word out that the pantry is here and it is meant to be used.”
Podlesak is in the Student Leader Fellowship Program (SLFP) and is completing her internship hours with the food pantry.

As of Friday Oct. 19, the food pantry has served 156 individuals with 556 total visits to the pantry since the pantry opened, and they responded to around 25 emergency visits when the pantry was closed, Peter Holliday, director of student support services said. An emergency visit occurs when a student is referred to the pantry by the Dean of Students office and they are given enough food to last until the pantry is open. NMUPD also has emergency food bags for those in need after business hours, Holliday said.

“Our goal is to help the NMU community address food insecurity and help alleviate the stress of trying to secure basic food,” he said. “The level of support we receive is pretty amazing, we have people coming to us asking how they can help.”

A new partnership with Feeding America West Michigan gives the pantry an option to purchase large quantities of goods at a low cost to help keep things stocked if they are running low, Podlesak said. She added that it is rare that they need to utilize those reserves with all the generations they receive but it is beneficial to keep the most needed items in stock.

One reason for the increase in donations is from partnerships with other student organizations, Podlesak said. The collaborative event, Tackling Hunger, with Marquette Ending Hunger and NMU’s football team on Oct. 6 collected over 300 donations, she said.

“We get tons of donations, and I am so grateful to see how much we have been getting,” Podlesak said.

The pantry is located in 101B Gries Hall and is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 5 to 7 p.m., and students are invited to stop in to look around and volunteer or utilize the services, Megan O’Connor, senior communication major said.

“The pantry is set up to be comfortable and there is nothing wrong with using a food pantry,” O’Connor said. “There is no reason why a student should be hungry while attending NMU.”