Frequently Asked Questions

General essential needs

How can I donate to Essential Needs?

Monetary donations can be given online HERE.  Checks should be mailed to: Western Michigan University c/o WMU Foundation, Essential Needs, 1903 W. Michigan Ave., Kalamazoo, MI 49008-5403. Donors should indicate the fund name (i.e. Food Pantry, Student Emergency Relief Fund, etc.) somewhere on their check.

Item donations can be dropped off at the pantry during open hours at the side door. Please do not leave donations outside as the weather will likely make them unusable.  See our Support Essential Needs page for helpful details.

Why are monetary donations preferred?

Monetary donations given to the General Fund allow the flexibility to use funds in a variety of ways that best serve students' ever-changing needs.  Specifically for the pantry, based on the partnership with the South Michigan Food Bank, Essential Needs is able to purchase food at greatly reduced costs, sometimes as low as $0.19 per pound!

Food Pantry

Where is the Food Pantry located?

The pantry is located in the lower level, rear of Faunce Student Services, near Seita Scholars.  Our main doors are painted gold, and face Kohrman Hall.

Does the Food Pantry accept expired items?

No, Essential Needs follows guidelines set by the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), available on the website, and disposes of any expired items received as a donation.  Items are able to be safely kept and distributed to students past the "Best By" or similar date(s), and the pantry uses the FoodKeeper App to determine what time frame is appropriate for each pantry item, whether donated or purchased.

Why can students only visit the pantry once every two weeks?

The Essential Needs food pantry is intended to provide supplemental assistance and cannot be used as a sole food source for students.  Based on Federal Financial Aid guidelines, if it were a sole food source, the "cost" of the bag of groceries would need to be reported to WMU Financial Aid, and recorded on the student's account, similar to a Student Emergency Relief Fund award, which could have an impact on that student's future financial aid options.


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