Students working to open food pantry for MU community

Wednesday, April 25, 2012 | 7:23 p.m. CDT; updated 9:30 p.m. CDT, Wednesday, April 25, 2012

COLUMBIA — MU students Nick Droege and Kiara Goodwin decided there should be a place for students, faculty and staff in need to get food.

Tiger Pantry, a project the two have been working on during the past semester, will serve members of the university community who might fall through the cracks in the process of determining who needs help.

Goodwin said some circumstances cause people to be overlooked. For instance, international students don't qualify for federal aid, and the loss of a parent or job won't show up on paper. 

"You aren't able to prove (certain circumstances). With our food pantry, you wouldn't need to prove anything like that. All you have to show is a university-issued ID, and anyone is free to use the pantry regardless of federal aid," Goodwin said.

When the pantry opens in the fall, students will have to fill out a form for record-keeping purposes to use the pantry's services.  The location of the pantry is yet to be confirmed, but Goodwin said it will be within walking distance of campus.

Droege and Goodwin attended a student government exchange in Arkansas for university members of the Southeastern Conference, which MU will officially join in July. The event was held in Fayetteville at the University of Arkansas, where the pair heard about that school's pantry. 

"Nick heard how it works, and thought it would be good for (our) campus," Goodwin said. "He heard more and more stories about how there was a need on campus. He knew I enjoyed service, so he asked me to help get it off the ground."

As for funding, the project will hire a fundraising coordinator. Goodwin said fundraising will start "from the ground up." Droege and Goodwin plan on involving alumni and businesses starting this summer. They also have plans to write grants for help with funding. 

Since it's the first time a food pantry service has been provided for MU, Goodwin said the goal for the first year is to assess the need and use of the pantry. 

She said she expects that stigma will be a challenge for the Tiger Pantry, but that the the facilities will strive to be a warm, friendly and welcoming environment to people who need the service. 

"Because I'm graduating, I'm sad that I won't be a part of the pantry in its first year, but I am really excited to help," Goodwin said. "The university has given me so much, so this is just another way to give back. It's been a lot of work and a lot of fun. I'm really excited to see where the team will take Tiger Pantry."

Supervising editor is Jeanne Abbott. 

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