GRCC student leaders fund food pantry through summer

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — Student leaders at Grand Rapids Community College have stepped up during this uncertain time by donating $30,000 to the college food pantry.

The donation, they say, will help their fellow students dealing with food insecurity throughout the spring and summer months.

Between 45 and 75 students line Lyon Street near the GRCC student center every week to receive food bags, free of charge. Each one is filled with nonperishable items, but thanks to this funding influx, they’ll soon be filled with meat and fresh produce as well.

GRCC’s food pantry has operated long before the COVID-19 pandemic necessitated a greater need. Faculty at the community college say they’ve noticed a dramatic increase in the number of students taking advantage of the service. 

“We’re living in a moment that’s really difficult for folks and we’re trying to let people know that we’re here to support them,” Director of Student Life and Conduct Lina Blair said. “This food makes a difference for students that maybe have to work less hours so they can focus on their classes. That kind of thing, it’s a tough time.”

The $30,000 donation is allotted to the student government, under normal circumstances and used for other purposes. The Student Alliance rerouted the money, which would have been spent on student activities, events and a program used to get students into area museums for free. 

It’s money they say is better spent at the pantry, which has outgrown the humble walls it typically occupies, overflowing into the hallway of the student center.

It’s the second time the group has voted to donate funds to help their classmates affected by the pandemic. In March, the Student Alliance donated $2,500 to the food pantry to purchase items for the pantry. 

The alliances hope is this latest donation will allow the pantry to operate throughout the summer months of June, July and August. 

“They’re trying to take care of their fellow students,” Blair said. “For us, it’s really all about taking care of each other, no matter what that looks like.”

It’s given students in need nutrition, essentials like soap, toilet paper, hygiene products and above all a simple reminder that someone cares.

“Our students are leading the way in that regard,” Assistant to the Dean of Student Success and Retention Sandy Gregory said. “They are showing us that culture of caring. Our staff and faculty feel the same way but man, these students have really stepped up to show us all.”

Students interested in receiving a free bag of food and other goods can check GRCC’s website for pantry pick up dates. You must only show your valid student ID to participate.

The next distribution event is planned for May 13 from 2 to 4 p.m. Those interested in donating to the pantry can donate through the website as well