The  Maize & Blue Cupboard, a group offering free food to anyone with a University of Michigan ID, has opened a location on North Campus. The new location is at the Northwest Parking Lot 10, located along Hubbard Road. 

Over the summer, the University launched a COVID-19 campus challenge, encouraging students to find unique ways to support other students during these uncertain times. Fourteen students in the College of Engineering had the idea to open a mobile MBC location on North Campus. Not only does their plan follow social distancing guidelines, but it also eliminates the need for students, staff and faculty on North Campus to get on a bus that may put them at risk.

Keith Soster, director of student engagement and a judge of the challenge, took a special interest in this group of students and quickly became involved with them. 

“We are hoping to help the community by understanding that there are lots of students that struggle to pay their tuition, let alone buy food after everything is said and done,” Soster said. “It was a brilliant idea and we’re hoping it stays.”

In April 2019, The Maize & Blue Cupboard opened a permanent location in Betsy Barbour Residence Hall that was available to students every day. They offer food, toiletries and kitchen supplies. 

Originally, MBC began as a student-run organization that held monthly distributions of produce and groceries to students in need, out of the Trotter Multicultural Center. 

Engineering sophomore Shanmukha Akkapeddi, who was involved in the challenge, said food distribution will happen every other Wednesday during fall semester. Students can sign up to volunteer at the cupboard online. 

Business sophomore Saurav Bhasin, a member of the team that came up with the idea, wrote in an email to The Daily he hopes that the newsletter they will be sending out with MBC will educate students on food insecurity and provide them with resources. 

“This newsletter will be aimed at destigmatizing issues such as food insecurity, as well as, spreading useful information about available resources on and around campus. In addition, we plan on including financial literacy information pertinent to college students,” Bhasin wrote. “We believe that in this unprecedented time these resources and pieces of information are more important to be aware of than ever.”

In the future, Bhasin said they hope to make this a permanent expansion of the MBC and create a more robust presence on campus, equipped to deal with food insecurity in these uncertain times and for years to come.

Rackham student Andrew Cabaniss, who wrote about food insecurity in Ann Arbor for the GEO Strike newsletter, said he followed the MBC and their first mobile distribution on North Campus of over 120 people on Sept. 9. 

“Food insecurity is a huge issue on campus and in the city of Ann Arbor and it’s been exacerbated because of COVID-19,” Cabaniss said. “And so I definitely thought this was definitely something that I wanted to cover and highlight.”

Daily Staff Reporter Brayden Hirsh can be reached at braydenh@umich.edu.

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