The food pantry on campus has served over 700 students and their families since its opening in November 2021, said Josh Myers, executive director of The Foundation at MCCC.
Any student, including Middle College students, can use the pantry, Myers said. They do not check for household income. The only thing a student needs to provide is their student ID number, which is confidentially recorded.
“We serve any student,” Myers said. “There’s no litmus test.”
Most of those students used the pantry during the Thanksgiving and Christmas food drives.
Though the pantry is open Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday every week, regular usage remains low, Myers said.
“We are having a difficult time attracting students to the pantry,” Myers said.
Between November and March, about six students have used the pantry regularly, with a few other students using it irregularly.
The lack of usage is due to a few factors, Myers said.
A lot of students are still remotely taking classes, so coming to campus for food is not a convenient option.
Additionally, a lot of students simply don’t know about the service.
“It’s not something I want to hammer students with every week,” Myers said. “We’re just doing whatever we can do to make students aware of it.”
Currently, The Foundation posts messages to social media, sends out emails and Brightspace notifications to students, and notifications in MCCC’s monthly newsletter.
“The issues we’re having getting going are not atypical to an institution of our size,” Myers said.
According to last year’s student wellness survey, one third of MCCC’s student population struggles with food security.
“That tells me the need is out there,” Myers said.
The food pantry is staffed by volunteers.
“The students with whom I have interacted during my volunteer time have been happy to receive the items they have gotten,” said Carrie Nartker, food pantry volunteer and English professor.
Nartker said she and the other volunteers are doing whatever they can to make the food pantry easy to use.
“Josh is doing a great job,” Nartker said. “He believes in this service, and is always thinking of ways to make it better and more accessible for students.”
For example, if a student does not want to walk through the halls with grocery bags, they can arrange for volunteers to bring groceries to the loading dock instead.
Additionally, Myers and Nartker said they are willing to go to the store to buy specialty items that students request.
“If students have suggestions, please share them with us,” Myers said. “Things they want, things they need. Right now we have random things like kid’s socks and kitty litter. Whatever comes up.”
The food pantry is still in need of volunteers. People interested in volunteering can sign up at the MCCC food pantry sign up website.
The food pantry will be holding another holiday food drive the week of April 11, the week before Easter. Students can take premade bags with supplies to make an Easter meal, or they can fill up their own bags.
“We will have turkeys this year, and if a student wants to swap that with a different meat we have chicken thighs, chicken legs and pork butt,” Myers said.
Students who are interested should come during regular food pantry hours, or they can go to The Foundation office to access the pantry on off hours.
“We’re helping a population that’s doing everything they can to improve their station in life,” Myers said. “That’s a very honorable cause. I want to do everything I can to help these students.”