More than a meal

Cats’ Cupboard’s new home enhances food security for more K-Staters

Imagine moving from a different country to Manhattan, Kansas, to attend graduate school at Kansas State University. Just the act of moving costs a lot, and now your money is worth six times less here than at home. And to top it off, your first paycheck won’t arrive for at least two weeks. What do you do?

This is one reason why the Cats’ Cupboard, K-State’s food pantry, is vital to the success of students.

“The Cats’ Cupboard is extremely helpful, not just for me but for so many international students,” said Endy, a doctoral student in agronomy from Brazil. “I know so many other students, research scholars for example, who really depend on the Cats’ Cupboard. It’s truly amazing to know we can rely on this resource.”

Improving outcomes

A recent survey of K-State students showed that nearly 40% report food insecurity, which is consistent with national collegiate trends.

“Students come to K-State to better themselves and to better their life,” said Shelly Williams, Morrison Family Director of Cats’ Cupboard. “They’re working hard, trying to focus on their classes, enjoying the culture and making those relationships that will enhance their lives both professionally and personally. They shouldn’t have to worry about not having enough to eat.”

In August, the pantry moved from an 800-square-foot space in the basement of Fairchild Hall to a new, much larger location on Denison Avenue, just across from the Carl R. Ice College of Engineering. The facility was made possible by a lead gift from David and Tracy Lockton.

“At the old location, we averaged about 70 shoppers a day,” Williams said. “And now at this new location, we’re averaging about 150 shoppers a day.”

Shoppers’ paradise

The new space delivers a shopping experience with a wide variety of shelved food, fresh produce, dairy and meat products, and personal hygiene items, all at no cost to K-State students, faculty and staff.

On their first visit to the food pantry, each visitor fills out a short survey that does not ask for any income information. To make sure there’s enough for everyone, shoppers are limited to a certain number of items, but students can shop once a day. Faculty and staff can shop on Thursdays.

“The Cats’ Cupboard has really helped alleviate a lot of financial stress for one thing, and it’s boosted my nutrition,” said Jack, a graduate student studying tallgrass prairies. “It’s really hard to find quality produce for a reasonable price, especially for those of us, like graduate students, who are on a pretty low fixed budget.”

All-around wellness

The Cats’ Cupboard supplies perishable and non-perishable food, hygiene products, and gently used (and new) kitchen supplies along with other helpful information. Visitors also learn about a wide variety of wellness services on campus and in the community — from personal financial planning to mental health services to cooking nutritious, penny-pinching meals.

The Cats’ Cupboard is a key component to K-State’s mission to support all students so they can focus on their education and have a well-rounded college experience.

“Cats’ Cupboard is one of the reasons I can be so successful,” Jack said. “I can be less focused on my economic situation and more focused on my academics, alleviating that stress.”

Without donations from individuals and partnerships with community organizations, Cat’s Cupboard would not be able to help students.

“I would like to thank the donors — they truly make a huge difference in students’ lives,” Endy said. “So many people rely on the Cats’ Cupboard for their groceries. This allows us to keep pursuing our dreams, even when times get hard.”

Your Turn

Support the Cats’ Cupboard:

  • Food and personal hygiene items
  • Gently used (or new) kitchen supplies
  • Financial support
  • Paper or reusable shopping bags
  • Volunteer

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