Some Mercy College students — most of whom already receive financial aid — still don't have enough resources to eat every week.
In an unassuming space, within a small private college, in the middle of downtown Des Moines, a community is showing just how much they care. Mercy College staff began to recognize a trend of more and more students expressing the need for groceries or gas money, and simple items to help make ends meet. Encouraged to create a solution, the need was further reinforced by a national survey by the College and University Food Bank Alliance.
Committed to a solution, Mercy College created Catherine’s Cabinet, an on-campus, free will donation food pantry designed to provide one more layer of support for its students in hopes that they are never forced to choose between hunger or their education.
Nothing more than an overflowing bookshelf, next to the Campus Ministry Office, Catherine’s Cabinet isn’t flashy but for the students who need the items within, it can mean the difference between eating or paying for school. Inside, shelves are stocked with a variety non-perishable food items. The Cabinet’s motto of “take what you need, leave what you can” speaks to its namesake Mother Catherine McAuley, founder of the Sisters of Mercy, and organization dedicated to the education and care of homeless women and children in the 1820s.
Many programs are in place for elementary, middle, and high schools, but surprisingly college students are often on their own. Especially in larger cities, where the cost of living is high is increasing, some students have to choose between paying their rent or buy groceries.