MOUNT PLEASANT (WJRT) (01/14/2020) - Central Michigan University is taking big steps to combat food insecurity on its campus.
The university launched two new programs Monday that will help hungry students on campus.
The first program is a new meal swipe donation program where students will be able to donate their unused guest swipes. These donated swipes will go into a bank and students who are in need can apply to receive additional meal swipes.
Alexandra Garay, a graduate assistant for CMU's student food pantry, said that this new program is a great way to allow students to give back to their fellow classmates.
"Just because I'm not experiencing it, doesn't mean nobody is," she said. "And I have the power to help in this way."
The second program will offer students an affordable meal for just $1. The meals can be purchased from 6-7 p.m. on Mondays and Thursdays outside the Down Under Food Court in the Bovee University Center.
These meals will make use of any unused food from dining operations on campus and may include soup, sandwiches, fruits and vegetables.
These programs were created after a committee of students and faculty came together to discuss options to combat food insecurity on campus.
"It was really from conversations being had and folks that wanted to do something about it," Garay said.
Following a university study, a student food pantry opened last school year that was designed to help the as many as 3,000 students who may be experiencing hunger each year.
These new programs will add to that help.
"We kind of realized this year we are not meeting some of the student's need with that so it's a great resource for people to come and get food," Kourtney Koch, a graduate assistant with the student food pantry said. "Sometimes students just need a meal on campus or something more short-term for different situations."
These new programs are designed to help students with food insecurity for short periods of time.
University officials said the programs will allow students to focus more in the classroom and not worry about having food on the table.
"It's unrealistic and unfair to expect students to perform in the classroom and be successful academically if they don't know where their next meal is going to come from," Erica Peters, the student ombudsperson said.
Garay said that these new programs, in addition to the food pantry, will allow students to gain access to what she calls a basic human right.
"I think there's a lot of myths around just being like a starving college student and eating Ramen every day so also working to to end that," she said. "And to have conversations around food being a basic human right that we all should have access to."
"It's outstanding, it's necessary," Peters said. "The university is really looking to the students to really drive a lot of this. The university is meeting a basic need, which yes it should be celebrated, but it's also expected."
Students can begin donating guest meal swipes beginning February 10 by stopping at the CentralCard office in the Bovee University Center.
Students who are in need of extra meals can register to receive meal swipes using an online form on Engage Central.