Volunteers at Barton Community College recently opened a Cougar Pantry to provide food to students. While it is available to any student taking classes at the college, it is especially important for who are on campus over the holidays when the cafeteria is closed, sponsors said.
Perishable food, nonperishable items, frozen items and toiletries are available.
Just before the Christmas break, children who attend the Barton Child Development Center helped deliver donated food items to the Cougar Pantry.
The food was donated largely by staff and the parents of the children at the CDC, said college spokesman Brandon Steinert.
“The pantry is intended to help alleviate food insecurity among Barton students. It comes at a good time when some students are unable to return home for the holiday break and will not have access to the cafeteria, which is closed until Jan. 8,” Steinert reported. Barton faculty and staff also volunteer time and energy to host a potluck for students who return to campus for athletic commitments before break is over.
Patrick Busch and Nolan Esfeld, both employees in the Student Services department at Barton, organized the Cougar Panty in November and have given out over 550 items since then, Busch said.
“Solving food insecurity among students has been an issue for years, not just at Barton but all over the U.S.,” Busch said. “We joined the College and University Food Bank Alliance, which has over 500 members. We visited other colleges’ pantries to learn their best practices and understand what it takes to run a food pantry. We are following the guidelines set by the Kansas Food Bank.”
The Cougar Panty is located in the tutoring lab in the Learning Resource Center and is open when the LRC is open.
Several individuals, businesses and group help launch the project.
“The Walmart in Great Bend gave a grant,” Busch noted. “Delta Dental gave 200 kits with toothbrush, toothpaste and floss.”
They also received financial help from the Golden Belt Community Foundation, the BCC Foundation and the college itself. There have also been other in-kind donations, including a freezer.