A campus food pantry called the Lion Co-Op will soon help MSSU students who are dealing with food insecurity.

Dr. Renee White, chair of the Social Work Department, said the pantry went from an idea to a reality in just a few short months.

“This has been nothing short of extraordinary,” said White. “Last spring, several entities on campus were noticing a growing trend of hunger and its side effects. By late July, three faculty members – Dr. Andrea Cullers, Dr. Megan Bever and I – came together to answer the question ‘What can the MOSO family do to alleviate hunger?’ From that question, the Lion Co-Op was born.”

Social work students also played a role in the project coming to fruition. Their research showed that many students were making hard choices about how to spend their limited resources.

The Lion Co-Op will provide food and personal items to MSSU students who need them in a discreet, safe environment. Thanks to approval by the President’s Cabinet and University Council, it will be housed inside the FEMA shelter, which sits next to the residence halls. Monetary donations can be made to assist in the purchase of food items.

A soft-launch is expected to happen in the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving.

“The outpouring of support, both here on campus and within the Joplin community, has been remarkable,” said White. “In my 35 years of professional social work, I have never seen such immediate understanding and support of a social issue. It’s truly inspiring to be a part of this effort.”