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Major changes at Bay’s food pantry

Jordan Beck | Daily Press Bay College freshman Mary Panfil visits the Bay College Student Food Pantry in its new location Tuesday. The pantry has moved to a space between the Bay College Bookstore and Cafe Bay.

ESCANABA — Bay College’s fall 2019 semester has begun, and the new school year has brought with it some major changes to the Bay College Student Food Pantry. The pantry has now moved to a new, dedicated location between the Bay College Bookstore and Cafe Bay.

Jill Wiese-Martin, director of TRiO and the pantry’s supervisor, said the pantry has been operating at Bay since November 2017. Previously, it was located in a classroom in the Catherine Bonifas Building.

One reason the pantry was moved was because Bay needed additional classroom space in the Catherine Bonifas Building. The move also had the goal of making it more convenient for students to use the pantry.

“It was not easy to find for the students,” Wiese-Martin said of the pantry’s former location.

According to Wiese-Martin, the pantry’s new location used to be utilized as storage space for Bay’s bookstore. The bookstore space is rented out to a contractor.

“We were able to work out an agreement with them to let us have this space back for this purpose,” she said, noting the bookstore did not need the additional storage space.

Efforts to get the space ready for use by the food pantry began in July. At the time, the store started moving old equipment and shelving out of the space.

Then, Bay continued work on the conversion of the space, including the installation of a new wall and electricity for the pantry’s freezer and fridge.

The pantry was moved into its new location in mid-August. So far, Wiese-Martin said things have been going well for the pantry since then.

“Students have been coming by regularly,” she said.

As it is located near one of Bay’s front parking lots, Wiese-Martin said the food pantry is now more accessible for on- and off-campus students.

She expects the pantry to become more popular than ever as a result of its increased accessibility.

Though it has gone through a number of changes recently, Wiese-Martin said some things have stayed the same for the food pantry — including its ties to Aldi.

“Aldi has been a fantastic partner,” Wiese-Martin said.

The grocery store has been donating unsold food to the pantry on a regular basis.

Wiese-Martin said there are still some items the pantry could use more of. These include oil; flour; spices; condiments; canned chicken, fruit and soup; cereal; and microwaveable food items.

The food pantry space will also become home to another service for Bay students — the Career Closet, which provides dress clothes to students who need them for job interviews, internships, conferences and the like.

“That has not been entirely moved yet,” Wiese-Martin said of the Career Closet.

Once materials for the Career Closet have been moved, she expects it to be open during the food pantry’s regular hours or by appointment.

The Bay College Student Food Pantry is open from Monday to Thursday from 3 to 5 p.m. and on Friday from 1 to 3 p.m.

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