Western Michigan University organization helping hungry, students in need

Western Michigan University organization helping hungry, students in need. (WWMT/Clayton Springer)

A local college is working to make sure no student goes hungry while pursuing their degree.

Western Michigan University is in the fourth year of offering the Invisible Need Project and Wednesday the program opened a new location for its food pantry.

Invisible Need Project started in September 2014 and saw 407 registered students that academic year. Since July 2018, the pantry has already served 420 students.

“They’re a forgotten population when they get to college. You look at K-12, they have breakfast programs, they have lunch programs, they have backpack programs,” Chair of Invisible Need Shari Glaser said.

Between October 29 and November 2, Glaser said 53 students used the pantry and program services.

“What can’t you do when you’re hungry? It’s hard to study, it’s hard to take a test, it’s hard to be motivated to even go to class because all you’re thinking about is you’re hungry,” said committee member Karen Lamons.

Lamons said the need grows because the cost of education grows.

“It used to be, when I went to college, you could work all summer and that would be enough money to pay for your tuition and everything you needed for the year. And that’s not possible anymore with the cost of education,” said Lamons. “If you work at a university you see the need. It’s not exclusive to Western, it’s not exclusive to Michigan. Any college campus, you’re going to see students in need.”

More students are taking advantage of the free service and more people are stepping in to help them with food and monetary donations.

“There were departments, there were student organizations that were organically creating these events and then coming to us, just like the men’s soccer team just did,” said Glaser. “It’s not going through the bureaucracy of ‘How are we going to spend this money?’ It’s a student is here, a student is hungry, a student has an emergency here’s how we can help them and we can do it right now.”

Lamons said, “They just show up and you see that across campus. And I think that’s the message - everybody at Western is invested in student’s success.”

Invisible Need offers emergency funding assistance for all registered students who have something come up, like their laptop breaks or they need a car repair.

Lamons said, “How can we help a student stay here and get that degree? We just want to help them succeed.”

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