Haley Moraniec knows a thing or two about helping other people. As the founder of Swoops Food Pantry she has made an impact around campus. It started as a proposal for her social work major after studying food insecurity and how the problem really hits close to home. “Ypsilanti is a food desert” Haley mentioned as she explains that, “If a student is having trouble making ends meet and food is a problem, they are not alone.” We are here to help.” The pantry is located on the 3rd floor of McKenny and is open to all current EMU students. The pantry is currently in a disused School of Health and Human Services mailroom, but they hope to expand. There is plenty of food to go around, with more stored off site. They are partially sponsored by Food Gatherers, a local organization dedicated to getting food into the hands of non-profit organizations that can help get the food into hungry mouths. Different varieties of food are available, with new donations coming in all the time. Several local companies from Michigan have helped out with some bulk donations of staples, like pancake mix and Jiffy mix. Not only are there foods, but Swoop’s Pantry also offers a large variety of personal hygiene items.
The pantry has already been a great success. Open for only a single month, they have already helped 38 students and given away over 400lbs of food. They keep very close record of foods and donations to help anyone who might potentially use the data for a future study. Information about students who use the pantry is strictly confidential, but all students fill out an entry in-take form to help gather that data. Otherwise, using the pantry is quite simple. After filling out the paperwork, students can come every couple weeks and pick out food themselves from the variety available. All of the shelves have a simple numbering system letting you know how many of each item you are allowed to take each visit, and many are simply take what you can use. Food ranges from the bulk dry goods, to a variety of canned goods to fresh produce. The produce is very popular, as it can be prohibitively expensive on a limited budget, even though it is such an important part of diet.
In the future, not only does Swoops want to help more students on campus with what they already do, they want to expand programming to include serving hot meals and even offering cooking classes. Cooking fresh meals at home can go a long way towards improving diet, but few people are ever actually trained to do that. The cooking programs would be in conjunction with EMU’s Dietetics program on campus.
If you’d like to help out with Swoop’s Pantry, you can help by saving money at the next football game. They are offering $5 off admission with a canned good for the pantry. How’s that for a deal?