Counseling Services gives back to students through donation shelf

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In Kansas, approximately 1 in 7 people have food insecurities, according to a study done by the Kansas Food Bank and Feeding America on the “Hunger Statistics” page of Kansas Food Bank’s website.

College students are not excluded from this population and can also have food insecurities. While some students may be short on money, there are students who may not be able to afford to buy food or essential hygienic products.

K-State Counseling Services has taken a step to help with this problem among K-State students. At the entrance of the Counseling Services office, there is a shelf full of food and other hygiene products that are available for students to take when necessary. In fact, the shelf has a sign above it that reads, “Take what you need and leave what you can.”

Wendy Barnes, online programs and outreach coordinator for Counseling Services, said the shelf is for the students, and the staff help keep the shelf full of products.

“That way, the ones who are coming in and that are hungry, they can go ahead and have a safe space in which they can just feel free to take food and leave stuff if they want to,” Barnes said. “So we all donate to it. We try to bring in a donation to our monthly potluck days so that that way we keep it stocked.”

Additionally, open donations to the shelf are also welcome. The entire process is anonymous, which allows students to grab whatever they may need.

“It is a safe space,” Barnes said. “They don’t have to ask anybody if they can take anything. That’s why the sign says, ‘Take what you want, leave what you can.’”

Having a lack of necessary resources could affect different aspects of students’ lives, Chaz Mailey, licensed psychologist in Counseling Services, said.

“In many ways, if some of your basic needs aren’t being taken care of as a student, it is really difficult to function,” Mailey said.

Malnutrition can affect “concentration, memory, sleep patterns, mood and your motor skills,” according to Chris Sherwood’s Livestrong.com article “How does not eating affect the brain?”

“It makes me feel good, working here at Counseling Services, knowing that we are trying to do something for students that we think is really helpful, and if we could somehow reduce one other stressor in their life, I think that’s really important,” Mailey said.

Barnes said the extra level of assistance can help the students within the department feel cared for.

“I think smaller departments like ours, having something like this available for their students, it shows the students you care about them and you’re concerned about their welfare,” Barnes said.

Outside of Counseling Services, there are also drives on campus for canned goods to help those with food insecurity. The Introduction to Leadership Concepts class, LEAD 212, plays a role by collecting cans as part of a class project.

Former LEAD 212 student Kandace Griffin, sophomore in animal sciences and industry, said she used her knowledge on food insecurity when asked for her response to the food donation shelf in Counseling Services.

“Just having LEAD 212 and getting to experience donating cans and going to people’s houses, it’s kind of important to have that because some college students can’t afford or be able to afford food,” Griffin said. “I think with having that, it might be helpful for some of those students that want to try to get an education but also can’t afford food in the long run.”

In addition to these on-campus efforts, there are multiple food pantries in the area. According to the “Manhattan, Kansas” page on the Food Pantries’ website, some of these pantries include the Flint Hills Breadbasket, the Wamego Family Worship Center, the Food Pantry of Junction City and the Junction City Caring Place.

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My name is Emily Moore and I'm a senior majoring in English and mass communications with a minor in leadership. I love to read, write and edit. During my free time, I enjoy doing crossword puzzles, rock climbing and spending time with my friends.