When Mathias Miles was growing up, his family sometimes used food pantries. Now, as a volunteer in Cardinal Kitchen, the sophomore telecommunications major is paying back the favor.
“I feel a responsibility to help in whatever way I can,” Miles said.
But, in Cardinal Kitchen’s stockroom, helping is not always easy — volunteers work over top one another to put together bags of supplies for clients.
The room on the second floor of the Multicultural Center is about nine-by-12 feet. Even with fans and 55 degree weather outside, the room is sweltering.
“Toward the beginning of the year, it’s super hot up there,” Miles said.
Since the room is so small, Miles and other volunteers have to regularly restock it from the center’s basement while clients are waiting on the first floor.
That is, if they don’t bump their heads on the narrow, shallow staircases in the process.
It’s for some of these reasons that Cardinal Kitchen is crowdfunding $2,000 to move into a new space.
Last school year, Cardinal Kitchen saw 570 clients and had a total of 1,328 visits to the pantry, up from 980 visits the previous school year, according to its crowdfunding website.
“It really is students helping other students,” Miles said.
Though Cardinal Kitchen has wanted to relocate for years, executive director and secondary math education junior McKenna Myers said the organization’s growing clientele has spurred the funding push.
“The need has just become more of an attention-puller for us,” Myers said.
Cardinal Kitchen’s Student Government Association representative Caroline Koby said the organization is still looking for a new space to occupy on campus. According to the crowdfunding website, the basement of the L.A. Pittenger Student Center is an option, but Koby said nothing is official yet.
Not only would the potential new space be bigger, but it might allow for the pantry to give out refrigerated food and grant its clients more anonymity, according to the crowdfunding site.
So far, the fundraiser has $865, with donations from some Ball State faculty and professional staff, like Assistant Director of Housing and Residence Life for Marketing and Communications and Technology Chris Wilkey, Associate Vice President of Strategy and Advancement Services Lola Mauer and Director of Student Life Jim Hague.
According to the campaign page, the project is set to end 11:59 p.m. on Oct. 31.
Crowdfunding isn’t the only change in finances for Cardinal Kitchen. After Ball State reached a settlement with Students for Life in September, activity fee policies for student organizations updated.
Now, Cardinal Kitchen receives no funding from the Student Government Association for the first time since the pantry’s founding in 2015, Koby said.
“We have split off to a single organization,” the junior public relations major said.
Last year, SGA allotted $6,500 out of its own budget to fund Cardinal Kitchen and then in April voted to donate an additional $6,500 to the organization for the 2018-19 school year.
The donation is not in the SGA budget for this school year.
Cardinal Kitchen accepts non-perishable items, fruit, vegetables and toiletries as donations to the pantry. Those in need of services can visit Tuesdays from 5-8 p.m.
Contact Sara Barker with comments at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter at @sarabarker326.