“I love seeing the participation that we’ve had with this and I like the outcome that we’ve had. I hope that we can do more for our students as we get bigger and we can raise more awareness of the need for a food pantry on campus.” – College of Muscogee Nation Case Manager Allison Barnes
OKMULGEE, Oklv.- The College of the Muscogee Nation (CMN) has now started their own food pantry, which is located at the campus’ turtle lodge. Hompetv Torketv translates to eating food or snacking. The food pantry consists of both perishable and non-perishable foods. This gives students the opportunity to pick up snacks or meals at no cost, and at a close distance to campus. The pantry is available to all enrolled CMN students.
CMN Case Manager Allison Barnes (Cherokee) spoke about the students’ needs the pantry addresses and its future. The need for a pantry arose when it was determined that students needed better and closer access to food items on campus.
According to Batnes, CMN Case Manager/Title IX Coordinator Lisa Bear and Case Manager/Civil Rights Compliance Coordinator Patricia Farrell were the two staff members who had the idea to create the food pantry.
The idea came from a need for food after the campus cafeteria closed. Some students worked jobs where they were unable to eat dinner during cafeteria hours. With the installation of the pantry, it allows students to grab items to take home during evenings and weekends when there are no other options nearby. The pantry’s grand opening on Jan. 24 exceeded the college’s expectations. It saw students eagerly searching for and grabbing items.
The pantry stays open during off hours with the help of campus interns. When students leave the store, they are given refrigerated or reusable bags to take home.
“It has been a really great resource for students on campus to be able to go and get stuff that they like but also we had engineered it to where they can take stuff back and have it for several days in their dorms for like weekends,” Barnes said.
So far, CMN staff has received positive feedback on the pantry. Students have expressed their appreciation for access to food at no cost, especially when their options are limited. The store allotts each student 25 items per visit.
Donations were also accepted on the first day as well. According to Barnes, one donor brought six cans of SpaghettiOs, which immediately flew off the shelf. SpaghettiOs and Prime sports drinks are two of the most requested items from students. All food donations are welcome, however perishable foods must not be expired.
After each visit, students fill out a survey to allow staff to keep track of who is using the pantry. It also gives them indicators for popular items to stock in the future. Staff can also track to see when it might be time to start stocking new items in order to provide variety. A reported 10-15 applications for the pantry are taken per day.
In the future CMN hopes to expand their pantry to become comparable to the Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology (OSU-IT) Pete’s pantry. According to Barnes, an expansion to CMN’s pantry would potentially include other necessities like clothing and healthier food options for those who are diabetic or have other medical conditions that limit their dietary options.
OSU-IT Pete’s Pantry currently uses a grant for their pantry, which is also available at no cost for CMN students. CMN even provides shuttle services for students who use items from Pete’s Pantry. Pete’s Pantry currently provides pre-prepared frozen meals and clothing among other necessities.
“They have other things that we don’t have yet but that’s also a way for them that they can double up and can have different resources through OSU-IT if they choose but also they have what we have too,” Barnes said. “I love seeing the participation that we’ve had with this and I like the outcome that we’ve had. I hope that we can do more for our students as we get bigger and we can raise more awareness of the need for a food pantry on campus.”
Barnes is grateful for the opportunity to provide food pantry services for CMN. “It’s like Christmas to me, I’m a gift giver. I’m a huge giver so just knowing that the important time of someone is like ‘I’m hungry’ and they have a place to get stuff that they like or they need and it’s at no cost to them,” Barnes said.
For further information about donating to the pantry, contact Allison Barnes at 918-549-2844. She can also be contacted by email at email@example.com.
To keep up to date on campus events, follow The College of the Muscogee Nation’s Facebook page.