(Tom Alexander/MJ)
(Tom Alexander/MJ)

By MICHAEL FOSSBAKK, Guest Writer

In a series of informational lectures open to the public, students, staff, and street urchins were able to learn more about what The University of Michigan – Dearborn is doing to promote healthy food choices, most interesting of which was something called the Food Pantry.

The Food Pantry, run out of The Civic, is open to anyone and everyone on campus seeking assistance in acquiring food by way of donated food goods. The Food Pantry will allow applicants to receive food donations once a week after having filled out a form for the program.

Applicants will be given an identifying number and card to alleviate the embarrassment some students may feel when seeking assistance through charitable donations. Students with the card will be able to go to The Civic, hand them their card, and then take whatever food they need that can fit into one ‘bigger’ two-handle bag or two ‘smaller’ two-handle bags.

An interesting topic of debate concerning the Food Pantry was how to make it approachable to students that have a fear of embarrassment when it comes to accepting charity. In order to assist in alleviating this fear, they have taken steps to get in contact with the various student organizations on campus, staff, the counseling center, and hope that word of mouth will spread news of the newly-formed service.

“It’s preservation of dignity,” said Amy Karaban, Assistant Director of the Student Activities Office.
In addition to this service, the Food Pantry will be taking note of certain habits that their applicants exhibit in their choice of foods.

For example, if an applicant is continually only taking items that can be prepared without the aid of a kitchen, there’s a possibility that that person may be homeless or just needs assistance in areas not concerning food. They will then take appropriate steps to assist this person in those areas, should they truly be needed and the applicant is willing.

It’s big step in the right direction for a university that is focused on its community. Hopefully, the measures that are being taken to make the service approachable will be effective, allowing for more people to receive aid and the service to grow into something that caters to all charitable needs.