During a virtual Town Hall meeting on Thursday afternoon, the Grand Rapids Community College Student Alliance approved $30,000 in funding for the GRCC food pantry to sustain the needs of students throughout the summer.
Since the beginning of the Michigan stay-at-home order, Student Alliance has worked to assist students who are struggling with basic necessities. One of the ways they have been doing so is by providing a weekly curbside pick-up for students to receive groceries such as fresh produce, frozen meat, and canned goods in addition to personal hygiene items, baby food and wipes, pet food, etc.
“I thought it was very important that we could keep providing to the students at the same rate and consistency,” Emma Johnson, President of Student Alliance explained.
The next pick-up time is scheduled between 12 and 2 p.m. on Monday, May 4 on Lyon Street, near Olivarez Plaza. Additional information and future dates can be found here.
Lina Blair, Director of Student Life and Conduct at GRCC, said that in the first few weeks of quarantine they had around 46 students during their weekly pick-up’s. More recently, they have had 66-71 students show up on any given delivery day.
The desire is that this recent allocation of funds will allow the food pantry to remain stocked. Blair said they have come “very close” to having to turn down students because there weren’t enough supplies for everyone. However, that has not yet happened and they hope it won’t with this additional funding.
“Ever since our first allocation with the food pantry I have tried to keep in touch with Lina about where the funds stand,” Johnson said. “Hearing that they were running low encouraged myself along with the others on Student Alliance to propose another extra allocation towards the food pantry.”
The Student Life office has had support from community organizations as well.
“We have been able to commit to a relationship with Feeding America West Michigan,” Blair said, adding that it allows them to purchase food at a cheaper rate. “We’re able to make our money stretch a lot farther.”
The food pantry is accepting cash donations via the GRCC Foundation webpage. Under the dropdown menu titled “Designation” select “Student Food Pantry” to have your money be directed to that. Blair also works with the Student Emergency Fund which is another dropdown menu option. Money in this category is allotted for students who are in a financial crisis and need assistance paying rent, utilities, etc. Students can apply for money through GRCC’s Get Help Program.
During the Town Hall meeting, students also voted for $2,000 to be devoted to the purchase of equipment for intramural sports.
Whitney Marsh, Director of the Ford Fieldhouse, indicated that GRCC has not yet had intramural sports programs and this funding is designed to help that begin.
“One of the things we just haven’t had a chance to offer yet would be intermurals,” Marsh said. “The plan was to hopefully have something in place for this fall and Student Alliance was going to help fund some of that.”
Since no sports may convene now and it is unsure when they can resume, they have been looking into intramural sports to be done virtually, such as ESports. This is still in the discovery/planning phase.
“At some point we want to offer something, we just don’t know what that is at this point,” Marsh said.
Sports such as intramural basketball, volleyball, soccer, and badminton were originally in the plans. The college already has the necessary equipment for basketball and volleyball. They are hoping to offer sports centered around what the GRCC students want.
“We’re willing to do any sport that we think we can get the most participation in,” Marsh said. Later noting that, “It’s totally up in the air as far as what sports we can offer and what (students) want to see.”