MEC grant helps Glen Oaks purchase new refrigerator, freezer for student food pantry

The Glen Oaks Community College Foundation, in partnership with the Glen Oaks Student Services Department, received a $3,000 Building Vibrant Communities Grant from Midwest Energy & Communications (MEC) to purchase a new refrigerator and freezer for the Campus Cupboard, a student food pantry at Glen Oaks.

In 2017, the college formed the Campus Cupboard in response to increased food insecurity among its students. “When the Campus Cupboard opened, it was done entirely with grants and donations,” said Anne Springsteen, one of the college employees who formed the program, and who serves as its volunteer director today. Springsteen is also the project director for the TRIO Student Support Services Program at Glen Oaks.

“(Early on) we received a refrigerator, a freezer, and many other supplies. Recently, the freezer had to be kept closed with a bungee cord, and the refrigerator began freezing items. We realized both would need to be replaced.”

The solution to replace the items came from one of the TRIO advisors, Hannah Fries. She was reading her MEC newsletter, when she discovered the Building Vibrant Communities Grant Program. After researching the program, Hannah approached the foundation to help submit the grant. 

“The foundation was very happy to assist the Student Services Department in seeking these grant funds,” GOCC Foundation Executive Director Vonda Marrow said. “Our role is to help the college find charitable dollars to support student, staff, and faculty needs, and college initiatives.”

After learning their grant application had been approved, Anne and Hannah worked with other college staff to find the replacement items, which have since been purchased and delivered. “We are so excited to know that with these items we are able to serve our students and not worry about any waste of our food supply,” Springsteen said. 

The Campus Cupboard is run on grant funding, along with generous payroll contributions from Glen Oaks staff and faculty. The program is staffed entirely by volunteer college employees, whose objective is to make visiting the food pantry a comfortable experience for students. It is located on the northside of the Dresser Business Development Center, near the front, main entrance of campus.

Currently enrolled students are able to receive 3-5 days’ worth of nutritious food once every two weeks. For the 21-22 academic year, the Campus Cupboard fulfilled 132 requests for assistance. 

Anyone interested in donating or knowing more about the Foundation, can contact Vonda Marrow, executive director, at (269) 294-4384 or [email protected].