A grand opening was held Thursday for the Northern Michigan University Food Pantry, an ASNMU-led initiative to assist the campus community. The pantry is located in 101B Gries Hall. It accepts donations of non-perishable food items, along with personal care, hygiene and paper products.
ASNMU determined there was a need for assistance based on a campus-wide survey. Nearly 40 percent of respondents reported they had gone hungry on occasion because they could not afford food.
“NMU attacked this project and has been really supportive,” said student Megan O’Connor, volunteer coordinator. “All the hard work paid off. It’s more than I could have imagined. We’ve had a flow of donations, but always need more.”
The university’s Food Insecurity Committee oversees the pantry. Member Peter Holliday, director of Student Support Services, works with student volunteers to organize the space and handle intake for those who utilize the resource.
“It’s nice to go from an idea to an actual pantry,” Holliday said. “As the campus community becomes more aware of it, people are dropping off bags with donations or we’re making purchases of needed items with a fund established through the NMU Foundation. We’re still feeling our way out, but the goal is to create a welcoming environment for shoppers who come through the door.”
ASNMU vice president Connor Loftus, NMU President Fritz Erickson and NMU Board of Trustees Chair Robert Mahaney delivered remarks at the grand opening. Loftus said the project was nearly two years in the making and he was excited to see it materialize.
“One of the goals of the Food Insecurity Committee and the food pantry is to say it’s okay to ask for help,” said Loftus in a previous interview. “I typically prefer to call what we do assistance. I prefer that because, for many people using it, the food pantry is a temporary thing until they have the means to get by on their own. We hope to assist them with that by providing them with food which hopefully gives them one less thing to worry about for the time being.”
There have been 95 visits to the pantry in the eight times it has operated since a soft opening in the fall.