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Honor society thanks trustees for freezer

Southwestern Michigan College trustees recently provided a Frigidaire chest freezer to the campus food pantry, the Roadrunner Kitchen. Trustee Todd Obren visited the pantry at Fred L. Mathews Library on behalf of the board to thank Colleen Welsch and Natalie Anagnos, advisors of Sigma Psi Chapter, Phi Theta Kappa (PTK), the international honor society. PTK launched the Roadrunner Kitchen earlier this year on the second floor of the Dale A. Lyons Building; the pantry has since moved to the library.

As Obren told Welsch, director of library services, and Anagnos, an English and Spanish instructor, “What a tremendous service to our students! It’s awesome what you are doing. Keep up the good work.”

PTK President Kathy Smiley-Strouse reciprocated by attending the Oct. 15 Board of Trustees meeting to thank trustees for their gift.

“Our organization helps run the Roadrunner Kitchen for the benefit of students here on campus who may need assistance with food and toiletries,” Smiley-Strouse said. “We have been open since March. In seven months, we have served 113 individual students a total of 275 times, giving out 1,867 groceries and 340 toiletries, and we’re only open about 7 ½ hours a week. Each student can come once a week and get up to eight items.”

“The freezer has helped us tremendously,” she said. “Your generosity speaks for itself.”

A study by Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE (Harvesting Opportunities for Postsecondary Education) Lab in Madison in April found that hunger and homelessness are widespread among college students. More than a third of college students don’t always have enough to eat.

The study concluded 36 percent of all college students say they are food insecure, and 2018 figures show that 42 percent of community college students struggle to get adequate food. Nine percent went at least one day during the last month without eating for lack of money.

“I’m sorry to say we are no different than every other college in the nation when we have some students coming to us with food insecurity issues,” President Dr. David Mathews said. “But the leadership shown and the interest we have among students to help other students has been overwhelming. We are blessed to live in a caring community where people step up and help others in need. The work of our own students in PTK, employee donations and generous donations such as this make a huge difference in the lives of students. We are grateful to everyone who donates to this cause.”

“It’s truly an honor to see the appreciation of each student who comes in,” Smiley-Strouse said. “Seventy-eight percent of students we help live on campus; 85 percent of those are under 20 years old. Thirty-nine percent have no income at all and 18 percent have less than $100 coming in, so they are very appreciative.”