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Nebraska Methodist College Receives $60,000 for Campus Food Pantry

Published: Dec. 6, 2022

Nebraska Methodist College (NMC) recently received $60,000 from multiple donors for its Caring Cupboard campus food pantry to help alleviate food insecurity among college students.

“Food insecurity while in college can have many negative consequences, including lower academic performance, lower rates of degree completion and poorer physical and emotional well-being,” said Lisa Johnson, NMC’s director of student support services. “When students have to go to their clinical, or they have to buy books, purchasing food may become less of a priority. The grant helps us ensure that food and basic needs remain available to our students.”

The Caring Cupboard food pantry is part of an effort to ensure that students' academic success isn’t impacted by hunger.

Food insecurity, or not having reliable access to food and/or basic needs because of finances, can be an occasional or chronic problem for college students.

“Food insecurity is an issue facing college students across the country,” Johnson said. “Prior to the pandemic, it was estimated that approximately 38% of college students reported being food insecure in the last 30 days. This is estimated to have increased by as much as 15% since the COVID-19 pandemic.”

NMC’s pantry provides perishable and nonperishable food items, including meat, fresh bread, produce, dairy products, canned food, pasta, rice and cereal. The pantry also offers infant and toddler necessities, personal care items, household products, scrubs, school supplies, and more. 

The recent donation will help NMC update and expand the pantry to meet growing demand. Those efforts will include updated shelving, improved refrigeration and freezer capabilities, and new storage solutions. 

“This year, our demand is greater than ever. Some weeks, simply keeping certain foods on the shelves is difficult,” Johnson said. “The donations will be used for a variety of purposes. Most importantly, it will be used to sustain our current need for food and basic care items.”

Johnson hopes to offer consistent “open” hours for students to stop by and shop since the food pantry currently offers only pickup orders or shopping by appointment.

“The food pantry has become part of the culture of meeting students’ needs at NMC,” said Deb Carlson, NMC president and CEO. “More students are coming to us without basic needs being met. Without the food pantry, students could go hungry, try to work more hours and lose their ability to stay in college. With this generous donation, we are able to meet those needs so students can concentrate on learning. This donation means so much to the college.” 

In 2021, NMC’s food pantry served nearly 1,500 students and their families. It’s expected to serve more than 3,000 students and their families this year. 

As of October 2022, the food pantry has been visited 550 times. In addition, about 250 students on campus have visited at least once in 2022. 

Methodist Hospital Foundation assists with donations to support current needs as well as expansion opportunities.

“This is another way our donors are strengthening health care in our communities. They know the challenges many NMC students are facing and how important it is that they achieve their dreams of caring for others,” said Tracy Madden-McMahon, president and CEO of Methodist Hospital Foundation.

The food pantry also receives regular donations from community partners. Kountze Commons donates nonperishable items, meat and produce, and Rotella’s Italian Bakery donates bread weekly.