The University of Missouri College of Veterinary Medicine is now accepting donations for the Community Chest, an internally developed resource to assist those within the CVM community who are experiencing food insecurity and need hygiene products.
Food insecurity is defined as the condition of not having consistent access to sufficient food, or food of an adequate quality, to meet one’s basic needs. The solution to that problem at the CVM is the Community Chest, which Megan Wilkinson, senior executive assistant in the Office of the Dean, is spearheading. According to Wilkinson, food insecurity has been a concern that has been discussed in the CVM on multiple occasions. “I do not want anyone in our college to have to make the choice between paying their utility bill or buying food for themselves or their family,” said Wilkinson. “If we can provide a resource that will alleviate some of that stress and some of that need as a community, then it’s something that we should do.”
The Community Chest aims to help anyone in the CVM community in need, including students, postdoctoral fellows, undergraduates, house officers, staff and faculty. Plans are to begin operating on March 1. The Community Chest supplies will be located on the first floor of the Veterinary Medicine Building, in the kitchen area next to the Adams Conference Center. Once opened, individuals will be able to access food and resources whenever needed.
While the Tiger Pantry, a food resource available on Mizzou’s main campus, helps address the problem of food insecurity, the Community Chest will provide a more accessible way for the CVM community specifically. “It is sometimes difficult for someone in need to access the Tiger Pantry due to work or personal schedules, so by having this open to the community all of the time, it is a resource that is always available,” said Wilkinson. “One of the greatest barriers when you are in need is going to someone and asking for help. It’s a barrier that many people struggle to overcome. Our vision for this is a space that will provide resources and necessities without the barrier of having to ask someone to hand you something.”
Wilkinson says the goal is to have options for everybody, including those with dietary restrictions. She has been working with the Tiger Pantry and a food and resource pantry within the College of Education to identify foods that are popular. “We’re being cognizant of including options for everybody. We want to have vegetarian options, gluten-free options and a variety of foods that will appeal to the most people.”
Prospective donors can help in a variety of ways. Drop boxes for nonperishable food donations are located in the Dean’s Office, Veterinary Health Center room A301, the front office of the Veterinary Medical Diagnostic Laboratory, near the front door at Discovery Ridge and the Atrium area in Connaway Hall. An Amazon wish list has also been created and includes popular food items and resources that can be ordered for the Community Chest and will be shipped directly to the CVM. There will soon be an online option to donate funds to the Community Chest through the CVM’s Office of Advancement.
The plan is for the Community Chest to operate indefinitely to serve those at the CVM now and in the future. “It’s a need that is often overlooked and not something that people think about until they experience it,” said Wilkinson. “If we can help provide this option as a community, it’s important to do so.”
By Nick Childress