Wayne State University’s campus pantry, The W, will open on Sunday, April 2. The pantry will provide perishable and nonperishable goods, toiletries, women’s hygiene products and other supplies to WSU students facing food insecurities.
The research and initial work to create the pantry was made possible by the McGregor Fund through a 2016 universitywide grant to address the needs of homeless or otherwise vulnerable students. The W is a collaborative effort led by the Office of the Provost and the Dean of Students Office.
The W, which will be located on campus at 703 W. Kirby will provide students free access to nutritious food.
“Wayne State’s goal for all of our students is success, and we strive to address all of the needs required to help them achieve it,” said Dean of Students David Strauss. “We’re fortunate that under the leadership of President Wilson and Provost Whitfield, Wayne State is committed to both our students’ life needs and academic needs.”
The pantry will be open Monday through Thursday from 4 to 8 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 6 p.m. All students who are currently enrolled or making progress toward a degree are eligible to visit the pantry twice a month for up to two grocery bags of food and supplies. A third access will be granted based on emergency need.
“The pantry is meant to be a supplement so our students don’t have bare cupboards,” Strauss said. “We want to provide them with as much support and as many resources on campus as possible.”
Prior to their first visit, students must complete a registration form online or at the pantry. No financial questions will be asked and, following their first visit, students may access the pantry using their OneCard.
In opening the pantry, Wayne State joins the other 447 other colleges and universities across the nation that offer a food pantry. The W has been officially designated as a Gleaners Community Food Bank pantry, which allows WSU to purchase food and other supplies at a discounted rate of 10 cents on the retail dollar, access food specials from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, and connect with local businesses and organizations for financial and supply donations.
In a recent study conducted among 3,764 students across 12 states by the College and Universities Food Bank Alliance, the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness, the Student Government Resource Center, and Student Public Interest Research Groups, 48 percent of surveyed students reported experiencing food insecurity.
The same study indicated that food insecurity — defined as a lack of secure and consistent access to nutritious, affordable food — caused some students to miss or drop classes.
“Food insecurity has a direct impact on academic success. Many students are forced to choose between buying textbooks or buying food,” said Rainesha Williams-Fox, a food pantry coordinator with the Dean of Students Office. “That’s a decision no one should have to make and we’re working to remedy it.”
Williams-Fox will manage operations at The W, which will be staffed by volunteers. Members of the campus community can sign up to volunteer online. The pantry will also partner with Wayne Cares to sponsor a campus food drive through March 31.
“I think The W is going to take the campus and community by storm,” said Williams-Fox. “We believe in Warriors helping Warriors, and the pantry provides countless opportunities for that kind of meaningful and mutually beneficial connection.”