Kangaroo Pantry celebrates one year anniversary
One in six people experience food insecurity. The Kangaroo Pantry seeks to change that statistic among the university population by providing food, resources and education to the university community.
“It’s important for us to take care of our UMKC family,” said LaShaundra Randolph, coordinator for student activities at the UMKC Office of Student Involvement and head of the Kangaroo Pantry.
Randolph began researching food insecurity when she found herself giving food to hungry students. She thought, if it’s a problem at UMKC, it could be elsewhere. During that time, she also received e-mails from alumni and staff about the possibility of having a food pantry on campus. She took her vision and input from others to create a plan for the Kangaroo Pantry.
“We need to dispel the myth that because students are in college, they all have a meal plan,” Randolph said. “Food insecurity is real.”
During Randolph’s early exploration, she visited campus food pantries, including the one at the University of Missouri in Columbia. That research led to her writing a proposal for UMKC OSI to consider opening a food pantry on campus at 4825 Troost, Kansas City, Mo.
In the first year, the Kangaroo Pantry provided more than 10,000 pounds of food to UMKC students, faculty and staff; has supported more than 435 visitors; and received more than 15,500 pounds of food from donations. In addition, pantry managers volunteered more than 200 hours, and faculty and staff volunteers contributed more than 400 hours.
Zendrix Berndt, a senior sociology student with an emphasis in anthropology, utilizes the Kangaroo Pantry services when faced with making choices between paying for school, utilities or food.
“Everyone has a situation where finances are tight,” Berndt said. “It’s one avenue and shows the university supports the students.”
The Kangaroo Pantry stocks the shelves with non-perishable food items that are collected through food and fund drives throughout the year. Volunteers work in the pantry, assist with donations, conduct food drives and serve the organizations who donate to the pantry. The Kangaroo Pantry is now an agency partner with Harvesters. This partnership allows pantry staff to “shop” at Harvesters and provide more of the basics people need, such as breakfast items, juice, canned food and boxed meals.
Randolph said the majority of Kangaroo Pantry clients are students, but staff and faculty can and do use the service. “We’ll do what we can to make sure ‘No ‘Roo Goes Without.’ ”