The stress of not knowing where their next meal will come from can be both physical and mental stress on students.
To combat this problem, Oakland University is setting up the Golden Grizzlies Pantry, a pantry that will open on campus this October. Located in the basement of the Oakland Center near the Student Activity Center, this pantry is part of the building’s renovation.
The pantry will provide services to address food insecurity as well as other issues that students may face.
Food insecurity is a term used to describe the inability to have reliable access to sufficient amounts of affordable, healthy food. At some point in their college education, one in four college students will suffer from food insecurity.
Jean Ann Miller, the director of the Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development, is a leading player in the creation of the pantry.
“I think it was a long time ago,” Miller said of opening the pantry. “I’ve been to a few conferences in Michigan and I’ve seen other schools do these things, and we’ll be mingling with them in October.”
In addition to providing non-perishable groceries for students, the pantry also offers toiletries, items from the Student Organic Farm on campus, donated gift cards and home insecurity information, transportation assistance, and other information that could help the students.
Together with Miller, the pantry is also being developed by Maria Beam, the director of the social work program here in Oakland. Food insecurity was the subject of Beam’s dissertation, so this subject is one that she is very familiar with.
“We started planning the pantry in June 2016,” said Beam. “Jean Ann Miller and I prepared a manual that explored all of the options for starting and implementing a pantry, and we followed that.”
The pantry will start small and allow students to visit or use the pantry twice a month.
“This first year will be our pilot year,” said Beam of future plans for the pantry. “Sustainability is always in the back of the mind.”
The Golden Grizzlies Pantry is available to not only students, but also faculty and staff in Oakland.
“I hope we can get people to use and use the pantry to meet a need on campus,” Beam said.
The Golden Grizzlies Pantry is currently planned to open on October 16, World Food Day. The idea behind World Food Day is to raise awareness and action to help people affected by hunger and food insecurity. This pantry is a great way to do both.