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KUMC food pantry helps students thrive

February 14, 2023

The University of Kansas Medical Center in Kansas City, Kan., is home to more than 1,500 students. Since opening in 2020, the KU Medical Center Thrive Food Pantry has assisted hundreds of students facing food insecurity. The Thrive Food Pantry was created to give students access to free food and resources throughout their schooling.

In 2022, 427 students visited the pantry (about one-third of the student body). Of those, about 10% of them are feeding three or more people while in school. KU’s annual 24-hour giving day, One Day. One KU., opened the door to more food for these students, allowing them a safe place to get food when times get tough. Because of donations, Thrive Food Pantry was able to distribute more than 17,000 items to students in 2022.

“We want our students to be as highly functioning as possible,” said Ryan Gove, director of student life operations. “They don’t have time or the ability to get a job, and the money for healthy, nutritious meals is not always there. Even if this pantry is just supplementing, we’re supplementing with food that is healthier.”

Join us for KU’s most transformative giving day, One Day. One KU., on February 16, 2023.

The Thrive Food Pantry has focused on creating ways for students to maximize their health and wellness during their school years. They partner with Panera Bread and the KU Medical Center community gardens to bring in fresh bread and produce. The pantry stocks donated hygiene products and housewares, ensuring students are able to cook the food they bring home and feel their best when coming to campus.

“We’ve really upped what we’re offering in the pantry,” said Ellie Eastes, KUMC student life coordinator. “We try to include recipes around the holidays. For example, around Thanksgiving, we do meal boxes that are exciting for our families. It’s one of our favorite projects.”

Donations to the Thrive Food Pantry help students facing food insecurity feel supported by the KU Medical Center community. This support also boosts students’ spirits and makes it easier for them to reach their goals. “At the beginning of my second year of medical school, my husband and I had some unexpected medical bills,” said a student and Thrive Food Pantry patron. “Life became really tight for us and our two kids. The pantry really helped keep us afloat while we got things sorted out.”

– Pamela Urlacher

KU Endowment is the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU. Founded in 1891, KU Endowment was the first foundation of its kind at a U.S. public university.

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February 14, 2023
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Michelle Keller
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