PHOTO CAPTIONS (ABOVE AND BELOW): Ferris State University students and others in the campus community are made aware of free food available on campus through the Ferris: There’s Food Here! Facebook page. The social media conduit was established in the Fall 2016 semester and boasts more than 800 users.
A collaborative effort, directed by Ferris State University's Diversity and Inclusion Office, is in its third year of sounding the call when a tray of sweet treats or basic food items are available on the Big Rapids campus, with a social media message for all who monitor the Ferris: There’s Food Here! Facebook group page.
Vice President for Diversity and Inclusion David Pilgrim said that he discussed the issue of student food insecurity with his staff and peers because some Ferris Youth Initiative participants and others on campus made him aware that having enough to eat was a struggle for them.
“We were already working with Pastor Devon Herrell, at Wesley House, where a student food pantry had been established,” Pilgrim said. “I had learned about a program at Kendall College of Art and Design, which used social media to get pictures of available free food before students and others who might need it. Our office explored the best way to get this kind of information before our students, and Franklin Hughes established the Facebook page in October of 2016.”
Katie Thomas, an assistant in the Center for Leadership, Activities and Career Services, is an administrator for this open group Facebook page, which is geared primarily toward students. She said that CLACS is among the campus offices that spread the word for free food availability. Currently, more than 800 Facebook group members monitor the page for a post of food availability opportunities on campus.
“Anyone who hosts a meeting, whether they are an office or university department or a student group, can post what they have to offer, and how long it will be available,” Thomas said. “Paying for college may take up most or all of a student’s finances. So, they may not have much left to fund their diet. We are glad to make good use of food that was intended for campus meetings and activities, in this fashion.”
“I am very appreciative that our Dining Services administration and staff are so cooperative when posts are made after the original recipients have finished with these items,” Pilgrim said. “Ferris: There’s Food Here! has turned out to be a good habit that people embrace, exhibiting true cooperation and mindfulness of others.”