Construction is scheduled to begin later this year on a new food pantry and campus store on the M State Fergus Falls campus, funded in large part with a $150,000 donation from Fergus Area College Foundation.
The renovated campus store will replace the existing bookstore, and the current food pantry will be expanded to better help students facing food insecurity. The adjacent store and pantry will be located in a central campus location, making both easily accessible to all students.
M State Dean of Students Shawn Anderson said colleges across the country recognize that food insecurity is a major challenge for college students and makes it difficult for many to focus on their education. Nationwide, it’s estimated that nearly 40 percent of students occasionally need short-term food assistance.
“Colleges across the country are redefining student support, and food pantries are becoming a mainstay in supporting students working to attain their educational goals,” Anderson said.
The FACF donation will support the lion’s share of the renovation cost, estimated at a total of $175,000, with the remaining $25,000 funded by the college. Work is scheduled to begin in December and be completed by the start of fall semester in 2022.
Ongoing support for the food pantry will come from the college and a $300 month commitment from FACF, and Anderson said the college also is looking into other options to acquire both shelf-stable and perishable foods for the pantry.
“We’re committed to sustaining and supporting the food pantry to ensure it addresses the needs of our students,” said M State President Carrie Brimhall.
FACF Executive Director Lori Larson said the foundation’s support for projects such as the food pantry expansion are possible thanks to donors who allow the foundation board to target the college’s greatest needs, along with earnings on these undesignated funds.
“Our board recognizes that, when students are hungry, it’s hard to focus on anything else,” Larson said. “When we can help meet their food needs, they’ll know that food is one of the things they don’t have to worry about.”
Earlier this year, M State was one of 27 colleges nationwide selected to be a part of the HOPE Center’s Institutional Capacity Building Cohort, which will examine M State data and student related to supporting student needs.