High Traffic at Student Food Pantry
At Grand Valley State University, students around campus struggle to pay for their college tuition, books, housing and other expenses. The Women’s Center helps to alleviate that need with the Student Food Pantry.
“The food in the Student Food Pantry comes mainly through donations from student organizations and GVSU departments; however, the Women’s Center does supplement donations when the pantry gets low,” said Karmen Vrooman, a Student Food Pantry volunteer.
The pantry has been operating for about three and a half years and was first started because a student working in the Women’s Center realized the need, Vrooman said.
On average, there are about 50 visits to the Student Food Pantry each month, said Brittany Dernberger, assistant director of the Women’s Center. There were 505 visits serving about 150 unduplicated students in the 2012-2013 academic year. The number of items taken per visit is not tracked.
“At a basic level, we know that it’s impossible to fully concentrate and pay attention in class or on homework if a person is hungry,” Dernberger said. “The Student Food Pantry serves as a bridge to make sure students have the fuel they need in order to fully function as students.”
The recent Campus Climate Survey revealed that 57 percent of respondents indicated they had experienced financial hardship, Dernberger said.
“Food was the fourth most common way in which students experienced financial hardship after tuition, books and housing,” she said. “This finding further highlights why the Student Food (Pantry) is a really important resource to have at GVSU.”
Dernberger said students don’t have to prove their need but are only required to show their student ID and fill out a basic intake form. Students can access the pantry a maximum of twice a month.
“Since I have only helped with the pantry for about a year, I’m not sure if there has been an issue with students abusing it in the past,” Vrooman said. “Students do not have to prove their need to utilize the food pantry; however, they must fill out an intake form that provides us with information for tracking purposes. Students are limited to two visits to the pantry per month and if they do not adhere to this policy, they can be barred from using the Student Food Pantry as a resource.”
Looking to the future, Dernberger said that the coordinators hope to expand the pantry to have its own student-run, physical space in the Kirkhof Center with refrigeration to broaden the donations they can accept and further aid students that make use of these resources.
“The Student Food Pantry is important in assuring a positive quality of life for Grand Valley students,” Vrooman said. “We recognize that some students truly need help and we want to help them persist through their education in any way possible.”
For more information about the Student Food Pantry, see www.gvsu.edu/women_cen.