Inside the Golden Grizzlies Food Pantry

The stress of not knowing where their next meal is coming from can take a huge toll on students, both physically and mentally.

To help combat this issue, Oakland University is creating the Golden Grizzlies Pantry, a food pantry opening on campus in October of this year. This food pantry will be located in the basement of the Oakland Center near the Center for Student Activities and is part of the building’s rennovation.

The food pantry will provide services to help combat food insecurity as well as other issues students may be facing.

Food insecurity is a phrase that describes not having reliable access to a sufficient quantity of affordable, healthy food. At some point over the course of their college education, one in four college students will experience food insecurity.

Jean Ann Miller, the director at the Center for Student Activities and Leadership Development, is one of the leaders behind the creation of the food pantry.

“I think it’s long incoming,” Miller said regarding the opening of the food pantry. “I’ve been to a couple conferences in Michigan and seen how other schools operate these things, and come October we’ll be in the mix with them.”

The food pantry will not only offer non-perishable food items to students, the pantry will also offer toiletries, items from the Student Organic Farm on campus, donated gift cards and information regarding home insecurity, help with transportation and other information that could help students.

Along with Miller, the food pantry is also being developed by Maria Beam, the director of the social work program here at Oakland. Food insecurity was the topic for Beam’s dissertation, so this issue is one that she is very familiar with.

“We started planning for the food pantry in June 2016,” Beam said. “Jean Ann Miller and I prepared a how to manual that looked at all of the options of starting and implementing a food pantry, and we followed that.”

The food pantry is going to start small and allow students to visit or use the pantry twice a month.

“This first year is going to be our pilot year,” Beam said regarding future plans for the food pantry. “Sustainability is always in the back of my mind.”

The Golden Grizzlies Pantry will not only be available to students, but also to faculty and staff at Oakland  as well.

“I hope that we get people to take advantage of and utilize the pantry so it fills a need on campus,” Beam said.

The current plan is to open the Golden Grizzlies Pantry on Oct. 16, which is World Food Day. The idea behind World Food Day is to promote awareness and action to help people facing hunger and food insecurity, and this food pantry is a great way to do both.