By Alex Hill- Staff Writer
Almost a full year has passed since the food pantry at MCC was first established, and many students may not be aware of the service that is provided for those who cannot afford food.
However, the food pantry is not just for students who don’t have money for food, or even short of funds on a specific day. It is open to all MCC students by showing their student ID. Students also can get other items, such as school supplies, personal care products, and plastic spoons and bowls.
Sally Birkam, the dean of student success and head of the Jayhawk Pantry, started the pantry in October of 2017 based on the results of a survey from 2016 about Muskegon County in which 19 percent of the population are in poverty and cannot afford food.
“The food pantry is a way for students to get the food they need,” she said, “and to help someone make the decision to stay in school.”
The students who use the food pantry are always anonymous; no names are recorded, when they came in, or what they took. The only part that is recorded is how much food is taken in pounds, and this is done by the students once they check out using a scale near the door, along with a chart and pen.
Hours during the fall semester are Tuesdays 4 to 6 p.m. and Wednesdays 8 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.. However, even when it is a not open, there are options.
“Students can go to the Student Life Office, talk to someone working there and then they will walk them to the pantry and they can get what they need or want,” Birkam said.
Over the last year there have been 364 student visits, 65 students have received food from the pantry, and nearly 2,000 pounds of food were provided.
This location in the library will not be used for very much longer. By January, MCC will be adding a Jayhawk HUB in Room 133. This new facility will include not only a larger area for the food pantry, but also will be meeting place for various support groups, such as the upcoming Al-Anon meetings.
The HUB will also help students find out if they can get extra financial aid from being in foster care.
“Some students are unsure of whether or not they meet the criteria for the various financial aid available, so we want to make it easier for them to find out,” Birkam said. “So this new edition will provide students with multiple services all in one convenient location to help them stay in school.”