January 11, 2024 By Christie R. House
ATLANTA – “On days that I was away from home from 7:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., I didn’t worry about eating because of the Koala Pantry. When my family’s refrigerator broke for weeks I was able to eat well. Without this resource, I would not have been able to complete either semester.”
Food insecurity on college campuses is often a hidden problem because students do not want to admit they are in need…until colleges establish free or low-cost food ministries and discover how many students use them.
Columbia College in South Carolina was one of seven colleges that received Global Ministries’ grants last year to develop pantries or other means of supplying food and hygiene supplies for students. The colleges receiving grants, made possible by Human Relations Sunday offerings, were all United-Methodist related institutions with significant numbers of enrolled students of color with diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds.
At Columbia College’s Koala Pantry, some students who frequented the pantry disclosed that they would not have been able to continue their college education without it. For students without reserve income for basic necessities, it is difficult to focus on being a full-time student while working to scrape together an income.
“The Koala Pantry has been one of my favorite services on campus,” noted another Columbia student. “I have used it many times, along with several of my teammates, when we needed to grab a quick snack between classes and practices. As a volunteer at the Koala Pantry this past spring semester (2023), I also witnessed how much good it does for many other students. I noticed that many rely on the pantry’s supply throughout the week.”
ESSENTIAL PARTNERS PROVIDE SUPPORT
While the grants were used to set up or refurbish existing pantries, these full-time ministries need full-time partners to keep supplies stocked and volunteers working. All of the grantees last year fostered additional resources to keep their pantries viable throughout the year.