‘It Saves Them, in a Way’

A student’s perspective and experience using the MN food pantry

Teagan Lynch, Opinion Editor

You are bent over your desk in class, struggling to focus, and your stomach growls loudly as you wonder whether or not there will be food on your table tonight. 

This is the reality of a student- part of the one in ten people in the midwest- who struggles with food insecurity. 

Last year, Senior James Wilson* was one of these people,  as well as a student who needed to use the MN food pantry during a difficult time in his life last Spring.

“We were going through a divorce, and for a while, my dad wasn’t supporting us as he should’ve been,” Wilson said. “We were going through sometimes two to three weeks without having what we needed to eat.”

Wilson’s mom called the school during this time of need and discovered the food pantry. With School Social Worker Peggy Breard, Wilson was able to arrange a confidential way to pick up his food bag in the office.

“I do like the way we were able to get the food out,” Wilson said. “So we wouldn’t be able to be seen by other people.”

Students often don’t like using the food pantry or asking for help because it can be difficult.

“It’s really hard to ask for help. Regardless of what kind of help it is, for many people, it is a pride thing. They don’t want other people to see them. They don’t want other people to know,” Breard said.

This was originally the case for Wilson when the idea of going to the food pantry was introduced to him.

“I was a little nervous to use it because it was kind of, not demeaning, but having to ask for help is  sometimes really hard, especially where you go to school,” Wilson said.

Wilson’s difficulties did not stop at having little to no food to eat. The circumstances that led to his situation were also taking a toll on him.

“Seeing my mom in a troubled time– having her being a single mom now, no job, on disability, having to find something to feed her family… seeing that stressful stuff on her, that was probably the most difficult part, not the aspect of going to the food pantry, but seeing the strain it put on my mom,” Wilson said.

However, the food pantry provided him with stability and a place to find food.

“It gave me a sense of security that I was able to get some help. I was very thankful that we had something like that at Millard North to help students,” Wilson said. “Especially people like me when we were in that situation.”

Today, Wilson no longer uses the food pantry but is thankful for the impact it had on his life.

“I’m thankful that we were able to get out of that foxhole– not having to use it anymore– but it is a really good resource that we have here,” Wilson said. 

Wilson doesn’t want the use of the food pantry to become stigmatized, as it’s a source of help for many people across the school.

“I don’t want ppl to look at it like it’s something bad because a lot of people really do need it,” Wilson said. “It saves people, in a way.”

*name changed