Maverick Food Pantry stocks up for a new school year

Now in its second year, the Maverick Food Pantry is ready to help feed more students than ever.
Published: Aug. 22, 2022 at 7:08 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2022 at 7:10 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) - Established at the beginning of 2021, the Maverick Food Pantry opened as a way for students to get the groceries they need at a convenient location at no cost.

“If you are an MSU student, you are eligible,” said Kelly Meier, assistant vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion at Minnesota State University, Mankato.

“I am off-campus this year over in Jacob Heights and I thought, ‘well I do not always have enough money to buy food constantly,’ so I thought this would be a great setup to come here and get some food that would be helpful for me to begin the year off,” said Abbi Halfman, who is entering her second year at MSU Mankato.

Word traveled fast, with many students loading up on what they needed.

The Maverick Food Pantry was able to help 8,900 students in 2021, serving 171,000 pounds of food. Now, with a larger influx of students, they say that they are ready for the new year. The pantry is paid for by the school through tuition. This allows the food to remain free and maintains support from other programs in the Mankato area.

Students can either order ahead for pickup or go into the pantry for an in-person shopping experience.

“The most important thing for us is to destigmatize the use of the food pantry. So this is a service for all students, we don’t screen students, we don’t predetermine whether or not you are eligible,” Meier said.

New to the food pantry this year is the Maverick Food Garden, a vegetable garden grown just outside the pantry that is designed to get a variety of fresh produce into the hands of students.

“I always ask Megan, who directs the food pantry, ‘do they throw anything away?’ and she said ‘no, it gets swept up as soon as it gets brought in’ so that is really exciting,” said Liz Steinborn-Gourley, director of the Women’s Center at MSU Mankato.

Often, students make sacrifices paying for things like books or rent rather than groceries.

“From students that say this pantry saved my life or in the past I wasn’t able to eat and I wouldn’t go to class because I was too hungry, when we hear those stories, we know we are doing the right thing,” Meier said.

With the increase in attendance at MSU this year, the food shelf is preparing to welcome more students through its doors. They say that they are ready for whatever the year brings.