Ferris State University Student Starts Emergency Pantry to Help Hungry Classmates

A student who has seen others around her go hungry decided to take matters into her own hands.

This semester, she started the "Student Emergency Food Pantry" at Ferris State University in Big Rapids.

Olivia Johnson is a senior at Ferris State University.

She’s developed a passion for helping others that she’s now using on her own campus.

“It was when I heard the story of a guy who gets a Hot ‘n Ready pizza a week and eats a slice a day,” Johnson said. “That kind of drove this home for us.”

Hearing this story from her pastor inspired Olivia to start the Student Emergency Food Pantry.

It’s at the Wesley House at Ferris State.

“We’ve seen over the past two weeks about half a dozen people come in. Which is more than we even projected. If we hadn’t opened this, those people would have never come.”

FSU students can come in here about two to three times a month, getting about 20 items ranging from whole grains to fruits and vegetables and even breakfast items.

“It is student-run and for students. When you come in, only thing that you need is your student ID. There’s a separate form for you to fill out. There’s no more than like 10 questions. You fill it out and we get you some food.”

A project that’s partially paid for by the United Methodist Higher Education Foundation, and partially through donations.

“These students are bright and powerful, and I think we need to equip them to accomplish their goals,” Wesley House Pastor and Director Devon Herrell said. “If it’s a can of corn or something, then it’s a pretty small thing to do.”

As word spreads about the pantry, they’re looking for more fresh food and basic toiletry donations.

“The struggle for me is neither here nor there, because one isn’t better than the other. Let’s embrace that struggle as a community and bridge a gap between hunger and high education.”

If you want to help with the pantry, call Olivia at 313-643-7793.