Zero Hunger: Gift from Kroger Supports the Golden Grizzlies’ Food Pantry

Food insecurity is a growing issue on college campuses around the country.

Raenece D. Johnson and students pose for a photo in a food pantry

Golden Grizzlies Food Pantry Manager Raenece D. Johnson (center) enlists the help of students to stock the shelves at the pantry located in the Oakland Center. Pictured (l-r) Alex Voxx, Frank Newsome, Johnson, Taylor Carmichael, and Giuseppe Giammalva.

Office for Student Involvement

icon of a calendarOctober 14, 2019

icon of a pencilBy Jennifer Hogan

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Food insecurity is a growing issue on college campuses around the country.

According to national statistics, one in four students experience food insecurity at some point during their college experience. To address this need, Oakland University’s Office for Student Involvement in collaboration with the OU social work program launched the Golden Grizzlies’ Food Pantry in 2018. Maria Beam, LMSW, Ph.D., director of the OU social work program, co-led the planning team with Jean Ann Miller, MSW, senior director of the Office for Student Involvement.

“We know students experiencing food insecurity have a more difficult time learning and studying, are more likely to be absent from a class, and have higher rates of failing or withdrawing from a course,” says Beam. “Having the pantry on campus helps students focus on their classes and their overall student experience.” 

An assortment of canned food
In its first year, the pantry assisted more than 100 students and distributed over 3,300 pounds of food.

During the first year of operation, the Golden Grizzlies’ Food Pantry, located in the lower level of the Oakland Center, made an impact. The pantry assisted more than 100 students and distributed over 3,300 pounds of food with the support of approximately 80 volunteers and hundreds of donations from OU students, faculty, staff and the local community. According to Miller, “The food pantry contributes to student success and retention by reducing hunger, stress and anxiety.”

“Right away the campus community was so supportive of the pantry,” says Beam. “Our volunteers are students, faculty, staff and community members who are committed to helping those who face hunger. They feel positive about making a difference.”

Now, thanks to a recent donation of $25,000 from the Kroger Foundation, support services for the pantry will be expanded. As part of its corporate responsibility program, Kroger created the Zero Hunger | Zero Waste social impact plan which aims to end hunger in local communities and eliminate waste across the company by 2025. The food pantry fits with this mission, and support from the Kroger Foundation will make a critical difference at OU.

“With this new endowment, we now have a long-term source of funding that will supplement our annual fundraising efforts,” says Beam. “This means we can expand hours of operation, provide campus outreach, and address related barriers to academic success and graduation, including transportation and housing insecurity. This partnership will enhance this program for years to come.” 

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