UNK Cupboard Provides Food to Students in Need

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Students at the University of Nebraska-Kearney are taking advantage of a new opportunity on campus-- the first of its kind on any college campus in the state.

UNK Assistant Director of Multicultural Affairs Monica Mueller says the costs of attending college can add up quickly.

Mueller says thousands of dollars go toward tuition, room and board and textbooks, which can sometimes make dealing with day to day expenses seem nearly impossible for students.

UNK Assistant Director of Business Services John Watts says that can sometimes cause students to question where their next meal is going to come from.

The Big Blue Cupboard in the UNK student union was built in the hopes of addressing that need.

"Think of it like your parents' cupboard, somewhere that students can come access whenever the student union is open and have food at their disposal," Watts says.

Mueller says donations from community members and students have made it possible.

"It's for the students, by the students," Mueller says.

But organizers say the project isn't meant to address constant hunger. Instead, it's focused on a much smaller scale problem.

"Is it a huge need? Probably not," Watts says. "But if it affects even one student, it's worth doing something like this."

Mueller adds, "It's not that they don't have anything to eat all week, but maybe it's that they get off of work late and the cafeteria is closed. Maybe it's that it's the end of the month and they don't get paid and they maybe need just a little bit of extra help to get by."

They say on a college campus full of supportive people, no student should ever go hungry for any reason, especially because eating and nutrition can have a big impact on students' performance in the classroom.

"We want to make sure that they're able to succeed in college and that food and hunger isn't something that's going to get in the way of that," Mueller says.

The project is a collaboration effort between Campus Kitchen and the Office of Multicultural Affairs.

Organizers say so far, they've received positive feedback from students and faculty since the Big Blue Cupboard opened Wednesday.