Mustang Food Share reduces stigma surrounding food pantries
MUNISING, Mich. (WLUC) - An Alger County school has launched a new type of pantry program aimed at removing the stigma surrounding food pantries.
Munising Middle and High School launched the Mustang Food Share program which provides free healthy food for all students. It has a ‘freedge’ where students can take fresh food as needed.
Previously it had food packs that were given based on need. The school chose to take a different approach after not receiving much interest.
“We decided to make it for everybody, let us just get rid of that whole stigma, let’s provide some food for everybody,” MSU Extension Marquette Alger Food Nutrition Instructor Vicki Ballas said.
State grants and local supporters fund the program. Ballas says it gives needed nutrition to the whole student body.
“As a community nutrition instructor, one of my roles has been to order all of the food and purchase the food,” Ballas said. “We are trying to do all healthy foods: whole grains, fruits and vegetables.”
The pantry is managed by the student key club. Its president Monique Birsson says the group is happy to help fellow students.
“If someone is hungry it is nice to just grab a snack or maybe they are struggling and don’t have food it is nice to know the key club is there for people in need,” Birsson said.
Principal Nicole Lasak says she hopes it is helping students who need it the most.
“Long-term we are hoping that we are helping kids with food insecurity at home, and I think that is the biggest hurdle we are trying to tackle with it,” Lasak said. Lasak also says this program is just another way to support students.
“Our goal the last couple of years has been really to focus on that whole child: social, emotional, physical, mental wellbeing,” Lasak added. “I feel that Munising is making big jumps in that year in the last year and a half.”
Ballas hopes that other schools in the area start similar food-sharing programs to help remove the stigma surrounding pantries.
Copyright 2023 WLUC. All rights reserved.