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UMKC To Open Food Pantry For Students

University of Missouri Kansas City

The University of Missouri-Kansas City will open a food pantry at the end of March in a step to combat food insecurity among its students.

College is often associated with ‘the freshman fifteen’, but with tuition costs climbing each year, many students are finding themselves unable to pay for food.

Angela Cottrell is the director of the Office of Student Involvement at UMKC, which will be operating the food pantry. She says that many students ask themselves a difficult question every day, "Would I rather have a meal or do I need that money to pay my tuition?"

Cottrell says that 92% of UMKC’s first time students are receiving some type of financial aid, and 1000 of those students have an expected family contribution of less than $1,000. 

“So it means that means that the financial aid that they’re getting needs to go to pay for tuition, needs to go to pay their student fees, and needs to go to pay for their books. At the end of the day, there's not much money in that pot left to take care of these essential needs. Food has a tendency to take a back seat,” Cottrell told Steve Kraske on Up To Date.

The population of students who suffer from food insecurity, she says, is almost invisible. Admitting they don’t have enough money to cover their basic needs is a challenge. 

“As an institution, we know that students can’t learn when they’re hungry. We’ve got to find a way to help our students, faculty, and staff who struggle,” she said.

Ida Ethiopia Ayalew is a student at UMKC. She plans to use the food pantry on campus. She receives a federal Pell Grant, a need-based grant for low income students, to attend school. She also works part-time. After paying tuition and housing, Ayalew says there often isn’t much money left for food.

“There is no need to be ashamed to say I need a little help,” Ayalew said.   

The food pantry is set to open March 30, and anyone can walk in and use the resources.

To become involved with the Kangaroo Pantry, call 816-235-1407, email kangaroopantry@umkc.edu, or visit Kangaroo Pantry online. Non-perishable food items will be collected and stored for distribution at the pantry, located at 4825 Troost. These items can be left in the yellow bins in the Student Union. If you are unable to donate food, Kangaroo Pantry accepts monetary donations.

Slow news days are a thing of the past. As KCUR’s news director, I want to cut through the noise, provide context to the headlines, and give you news you can use in your daily life – information that will empower you to make informed decisions about your neighborhood, your city and the region. Email me at lisa@kcur.org or follow me on Twitter @larodrig.