The W, Wayne State University’s campus food pantry, has been awarded a one-year, $34,000 grant from the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan (CFSEM) to help combat the increasingly common issue of food insecurity among college students.
The W provides nutritious food, perishable and nonperishable goods, toiletries, and other supplies to Wayne State students at no cost. The grant will fund nearly all of the pantry’s initial start-up expenses, including the purchase of food and toiletries, food storage equipment, cleaning supplies, inventory software, marketing materials, uniforms for volunteers, and more.
“Food insecurity has a direct impact on economic success and, unfortunately, many students are forced to choose between buying textbooks or buying food,” said Dean of Students David Strauss. “That’s a decision no one should ever have to make and we’re fortunate to have the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan join us in remedying that need.”
Nationally, food insecurity among college students is estimated to be approximately 48 percent, and while research is still ongoing, WSU estimates that as many as 10,000 of its students are food insecure, which is defined as having a lack of secure, consistent access to nutritious and affordable food.
The W, which is an officially designated Gleaners Community Food Bank partner agency, was launched following a six-month assessment supported by the McGregor Fund that examined the needs of Wayne State students, specifically those who are homeless or otherwise vulnerable. Any student who is currently enrolled or making progress toward a degree is eligible to visit The W twice a month for up to two bags of food and supplies; a third access is granted upon emergency need.
Since opening in April, The W has served almost 300 students and distributed nearly 4,000 pounds of food and supplies. The WSU community has embraced The W by providing donations, hosting food drives and volunteering at the pantry.
In addition to food and supplies, The W staff has also collaborated with the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services’ Conner Service Center to inform students in need about federal benefits, including the Supplemental Food Assistance Program (SNAP) and other programs like State Emergency Relief that offer assistance with rent, utilities, transportation, childcare and more. On-site caseworkers are available to students every Tuesday and Wednesday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. in the Welcome Center.
About the Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan
The Community Foundation for Southeast Michigan is a full-service philanthropic organization leading the way to positive change in our region. As a permanent community endowment built by gifts from thousands of individuals and organizations, the Foundation supports a wide variety of activities benefiting education, arts and culture, health, human services, community development, and civic affairs. Since its inception, the Foundation has distributed nearly $941 million through more than 61,000 grants to nonprofit organizations throughout Wayne, Oakland, Macomb, Monroe, Washtenaw, St. Clair, and Livingston counties. For more information, please visit cfsem.org.