A helping hand

Food pantry for students severely underused

Thayer, who said she hasn’t had to order more food in a month and a half, organizes the
shelves at the food pantry. Photo by : Megell Strayhorn I Multimedia Editor

College students not taking free food is a phrase rarely heard, but for Wesley House food pantry manager Lauren Thayer, it’s a fact she
experiences daily.

Thayer, a Ferris psychology senior, has been managing the food pantry for three years, but the pantry itself has been around for 15. It’s
specifically for students, but few students know about it or use it. According to Thayer, many students are afraid of taking something from
somebody else who might need it.

“It’s really meant from a good place, but the problem is we could get so much more food than we currently have and the reason we don’t
and can’t is because people don’t take the food we already have,” Thayer said. “The idea is to alleviate pressures from college kids, so if we
can help you out with food, you’d be able to pay other bills that are stressful or you need to pay.”

The food pantry runs on orders from Feeding America and donations, either from registered student organizations, the Ferris Faculty Association, the Methodist Church that sponsors the house or outside donations. Thayer said she can order up to twice a month from Feeding America, but she only orders once a month because the food is not taken.

“Kids accept scholarships and Pell grants and that’s all free money, and the same kind of idea is there. You could pick up way too many
jobs and make the same amount of money, but the reason you don’t is you have to balance a million other things. If you can take one more
pressure off, why not do it?” Thayer said. “Especially when we have as much as we do and we are as stocked as consistently, and it’s never
like we are struggling to stay afloat.”

Many students remain unaware of the food pantry. Ferris elementary education freshman Ashley Yell said the pantry could be helpful to
students learning to manage their money.

“I definitely think I would [use it], I know as college life, there are some times you’re not really used to spending your money just yet,” Yell said. “So I definitely think that would come in handy sometimes in those months where you just don’t really pay attention and you realize ‘I need this but don’t have the money,’ so I think that would be really helpful.”

Ferris pre-pharmacy sophomore Alyssa Palomaki said she thinks the pantry is underused because it’s hard to admit sometimes when you
need the help.

“I think it’s hard to admit you need help because you’re at college and you’re on your own for the first time, and a lot of people are in the
independent mindset. So I think that if you need the help, you shouldn’t be ashamed to admit it,” Palomaki said. “I think that everyone should be able to have access to that kind of necessity if they need it, so I think it’s cool that we have one on campus specifically for students.”

The food pantry, which also has toiletries and paper products, is open from 4:30 to 7 p.m. Monday through Thursday. Thayer said she often comes in outside of those hours to meet students if they contact her. Students who go to the pantry need their student ID for logging purposes.