The UMKC Kangaroo Pantry has expanded its reach to help more Roos in need as the pandemic has left more hungry.
During the 2019-2020 school year, the pantry distributed 9,873 pounds of food. Last school year, their output more than doubled, as they distributed 22,140 pounds.
"This is different than anything we've seen. We're seeing more students than we have probably seen in a very long time," Taylor Blackmon, basic needs coordinator said.
The pantry has been able to meet the increased need through things like donations and partnerships with companies and organizations such as Hiland Dairy, Whole Foods and Harvesters Community Food Network.
Anthony Maly, senior program manager, said financial donations and partnerships have been extremely important to the pantry over the last couple of years.
"We really couldn't operate without that financial assistance," Maly said.
Opened in 2015, the Kangaroo Pantry provides food assistance for all Roos in need, including students, faculty and staff. Because of donations, within the last year the pantry has seen some new additions, like a refrigerator and freezer that houses fresh produce, meats and free Hiland Dairy products.
The pantry has also expanded its offerings to include items such as feminine hygiene products, dog food and baby formula.
"We believe that no Roos should go without, and that includes hygiene products, laundry detergent, whatever students, faculty or staff might need to meet their most basic needs. We want to make sure that we can provide that," Maly said.
How to receive assistance from the Kangaroo Food Pantry:
If you are a UMKC student, faculty or staff member who needs assistance, bring your university ID to the pantry to shop during the pantry's open house hours. Masks or face coverings are required regardless of vaccination status.
All Roos are eligible to pick roughly 20 food items per week, but fresh produce does not count toward those 20 items.
While the pantry does place a limit on items, Blackmon said they are willing to work with those who may have increased need for additional items.
"We do have some people who are utilizing this service that are shopping for their families and not just going back to their dorm rooms. In those cases, especially if there are children involved, your items won't be counted," Blackmon said.
Locations and hours:
The Kangaroo Food Pantry's main location can be found at 4825 Troost, Room 103. It's open Tuesday 1:30-5:30 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 1-5 p.m. and Sunday 3-6 p.m.
If you are unable to make any of those hours, Blackmon said appointments can be set up.
The main location features a "full client choice model" which means individuals can walk the aisles and 'shop' for the items they want, instead of simply picking up pre-packaged bags of items.
In addition to the main campus, and due to increased need, the Kangaroo Food Pantry has also launched two satellite locations. One is in the Health Science District, on the first floor (Room 1-402) of the School of Medicine. It's open from 8 a.m.-5 p.m. for students to pick up pre-packaged bags of items.
The second satellite pantry is in the UMKC Student Union on the 2nd floor near Jazzman's. The pantry is "shelf-style," meaning students walking by can quickly grab whatever they like without having to "check out," or pre-order.
Blackmon said all of the locations are meant to encourage everyone to take advantage of the resources the Kangaroo Food Pantry offers.
"This is here for you. There is no stigma here," Blackmon said.
How to support the Kangaroo Food Pantry:
While the pantry does accept donated non-perishable food, monetary donations are encouraged, as the pantry can stretch a dollar further through partnerships than the average grocery store shopper.
Another way to support the Kangaroo Pantry is to participate in the upcoming UMKC Virtual 5K which runs from Sept. 25- October 3. Registration is $25 and all proceeds support the pantry.
Story by: Riley Newton, firstname.lastname@example.org