NEW Dec. 16 -- Scroll down to hear Anna Duffield describe the Malcolm School food pantry grant project.
GRANTWRITER'S PANTRY – Lake Superior State University political science senior Anna Duffield sits in a food pantry she helped fund through a grant-writing class this past summer. The Malcolm High School food bank stocks essential food and household items for students who may be homeless or, at the very least, slip through age-related eligibility cracks for public assistance. (LSSU/John Shibley)
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by HELENA WOLLAN,
LSSU Public Relations Office
SAULT STE. MARIE, Mich. - A Lake Superior State University student has launched a project to help feed high school kids who might otherwise go hungry. A mini-pantry housed in Malcolm High School now stocks essential food and household items for students who may be homeless or, at the very least, slip through age-related eligibility cracks for public assistance.
The project started this past summer when Anna Duffield, a political science major from Sunfield, Mich., was assigned to create a project of her choosing in Prof. Shawna Mauldin’s grant writing class.
For Duffield, the grant idea came from a fundamental need.
"Proper nutrition is the first step in accomplishing anything," says Duffield. "Student success, especially the success of those enrolled in an alternative education program, depends upon meeting nutritional needs that a food pantry can deliver."
Aside from being a core course taken by many sociology students, the class also attracts other majors who may find themselves writing grants for funding projects in the sciences or humanities.
"Students usually have a project in mind when they take this class," says Mauldin. "If they don't, we sit down and define any goal that might be eligible for public or private grants. The class gives them the tools to seek out funding sources and collaborators, and write polished proposals for funding."
Duffield drew up her food bank proposal in partnership with the Sault Area Public Schools Students In Transition Program. She asked for several hundred to kickstart a weekend food bank that would provide not only nutritious items, but personal hygiene products as well.
The seed money has paid off. Since September, a team of volunteers has been assembling weekend bags for eligible students to pick up at Malcolm High School every Friday. The pantry is also accessible Monday-Friday by appointment if students need unanticipated items.
The pantry is another powerful way that Malcolm's alternative high school program inherently helps students who might also be dealing with issues of homelessness. The national average for homeless students graduating from high school is just under 25%. Malcolm’s graduating class last year had a graduation rate of nearly 70% for homeless students.
“In the past few weeks I have helped coordinate food drives and worked to prepare a room the food bank will operate in," she says. "The amount of community support I have received so far has been astounding and includes sororities, clubs, church groups, and schools.”
The LSSU sorority Alpha Kappa Chi has raised more than $700 worth of canned goods for the effort.
The experience has also solidified Duffield's short term academic and long term career plans.
"I'm looking to incorporate this project into a senior thesis topic," she says. "I'd like to work programs like this in the future, hopefully as a full time job with a non-profit.”
If Duffield applies herself as diligently as she does to food bank ideas, reaching that goal should not be a problem.
Anna Duffield and the Malcolm School pantry project, in her own words . . .
CONTACTS: John Shibley, e-mail, 906-635-2314; Tom Pink, e-mail, 635-2315; Prof. Shawna-Sue Mauldin, e-mail, 635-2601.