YPSILANTI – Five years ago today, on Sept. 21, 2015, Swoop’s Food Pantry opened its doors to serve Eastern Michigan University students.
Since then, the pantry, located in the John and Angie Sabo Swoop's Food Pantry Room in Pierce Hall, has had more than 15,000 student visits and given out more than 270,000 pounds of food.
The student-led pantry has become a cherished and valuable campus feature as it successfully strives to decrease the stigma around food insecurity among students and help EMU students reach their educational goals. One in three students experience food insecurity some time during their college experience, research shows.
EMU staff and faculty and surrounding communities and businesses have been generous in supporting the pantry and keeping its shelves stocked with needed food supplies and needed items for daily living.
Haley Moraniec’s vision
The story of Swoop’s Food Pantry began seven years ago when its founder, Haley Moraniec, then an undergraduate student in social work, developed a passion for food justice when she served as a Volunteer Coordinator for the EMU volunteer center, VISION.
She was inspired by community-based organizations that fight for food justice, and began researching how other universities combat barriers that students face to college completion, subsequently learning about campus-based food pantries.
In 2013, she wrote a proposal to the EMU administration for a student food pantry and worked to get it launched for several years. Following a presentation to the University’s Board of Regents, she was able to forge a partnership with a local food rescue organization, locate space, devise policies, train workers and organize food drives.
“We’ve done, I feel, a fabulous job at trying to decrease the stigma that’s associated with being food insecure,” Moraniec says now. “People can feel comfortable coming in here and asking for help …
“Swoop’s Food Pantry has impacted so many of our students over the past five years. We continue to see growth in the number of students we see come through the pantry every single day. It’s Important that we’re able to continue to serve our students and to support the EMU community.”
“Such a lovely service”
Students such as Monica Spencer, who’s majoring in media, broadcast journalism at Eastern. She works in musical theater, and thus the COVID-19 “completely” put her out of a job. She saw an email last winter about the pantry’s resources, and, despite some initial reservations, paid a visit and found a welcoming place steeped in kindness.
“Swoop’s was an amazing experience for me …” Spencer says. “When I got there, I was greeted with friendly faces. Everyone was so kind and helpful – it was such a lovely
EMU President James Smith and his wife, Connie Ruhl-Smith, enjoy a Saturday ritual of visiting Kroger and filling out a Swoop’s basket right next to their own personal basket.
“We know the importance of this for our students,” President Smith says on a video celebrating Swoop’s fifth anniversary. “And we want to continue to be great contributors to the Swoop’s Food Pantry. We hope others will as well.”
About The John and Angie Sabo Swoop’s Food Pantry Room
Fall hours are: Mondays and Thursdays from 12 - 5 p.m., Wednesdays from 12 - 6:30 p.m. Shoppers are requested to complete an Online Shopping Request Form before arriving. Items will be bagged by staff and brought out to clients when they arrive. Visitors to Swoop’s can enter through the main entrance on the north side of Pierce Hall near the elevator. Swoop’s requires any student who has not used the pantry this year to complete the new 2020-21 Swoop's Food Pantry Intake Form.
You can join in celebrating the pantry’s five-year anniversary by participating in Swoop’s 5 days to $5,000 goal. You can access both the crowdfunding page by visiting Swoop's Food Pantry website on Monday, Sept. 21.
About Eastern Michigan University
Founded in 1849, Eastern is the second oldest public university in Michigan. It currently serves nearly 18,000 students pursuing undergraduate, graduate, specialist, doctoral and certificate degrees in the arts, sciences and professions. In all, more than 300 majors, minors and concentrations are delivered through the University's Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Business; Education; Engineering and Technology; Health and Human Services; and, its graduate school. EMU is regularly recognized by national publications for its excellence, diversity, and commitment to applied education. For more information about Eastern Michigan University, visit the University's website.