Eat or graduate – this is a necessary choice for many UMKC students. When it comes down to required textbooks or groceries, many students often go hungry. Along with students, some faculty and staff also struggle with low income, massive debt and other financial obstacles which prevent them from meeting their basic needs. UMKC’s Office of Student Involvement (OSI) set out to rectify hunger by founding the Kangaroo Pantry, which is now open to serve UMKC community members.
Dr. Angela Cottrell, the OSI director, is among the founding members of the pantry.
“The Kangaroo Pantry was started as a part of the Office of Student Involvement’s Strategic Plan,” she said. “We identified a need on our campus and knew there were homeless students, impoverished staff members, and an overall concern about food insecurity. We have the opportunity to help close a much-needed gap to help make our UMKC community healthier and stronger.”
Cottrell hopes the Kangaroo Pantry will be a more comfortable alternative for UMKC students and employees than a community pantry.
“Our Roos know our campus and that can make the pantry more inviting than walking into a building or organization that they have never seen or experienced,” she said. “They know they will be treated with respect, dignity, and served to the best of our ability.”
In addition to providing UMKC students and employees with the food they need to focus and succeed, the Kangaroo Pantry’s long-term goals involve helping with SNAP benefits and toiletries, as well as expansion.
The Kangaroo Pantry requires financial donations and volunteers to succeed. So far, it has been funded only by donations from the Student Government Association, OSI, other student organizations and a drive within the Administrative Center. The Kangaroo Pantry, Cottrell warned, will require “a strong revenue source to continue to grow and thrive.”
All UMKC students, staff, and faculty are encouraged to volunteer, which includes sorting and gathering donations, hanging fliers and preparing bags of food. Cottrell emphasized the need for involvement from UMKC’s community as the pantry gets off the ground.
“We need all the volunteers we can take right now as we start to open the pantry,” she said. “We have no idea how popular the Kangaroo Pantry will be for our UMKC family, so we want to be prepared.”
The pantry is located at 4825 Troost in room 103, and it will be open 3:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesdays and 1-4 p.m. Wednesdays.
Cottrell acknowledged this is a brand-new venture for UMKC.
“Please let us know your feedback, thoughts, and suggestions on how we can make the Kangaroo Pantry stronger,” she said.
More information can be found online at info.umkc.edu/getinvolved/kangaroopantry.