The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

The Student News Site of Grand Valley State University

Grand Valley Lanthorn

Supplying students: Replenish expand to Basic Needs Center

GVL / Aida Dennis

Replenish, the campus food pantry at Grand Valley State University, has expanded its services and reopened as the Basic Needs Center effective as of Wednesday, Nov. 8. The expansion includes access to another room at the facility that houses donated clothes, shoes, kitchen and household supplies, school supplies and other items available for students in need.

Located at the Allendale Campus Replenish, the Basic Need Center’s expanded services help create an equitable campus environment by recognizing that basic needs go beyond food. 

The Gayle R. Davis Center for Women and Gender Equity manages the Replenish resource program. Alyssa Beil is a Graduate Assistant at the Center for Women and Gender Equity and is studying in the School of Social Work. She coordinates Replenish and works closely to help the community both at GVSU and in West Michigan. Beil has a professional background in community organizing and food justice efforts at the food bank level.

“The idea is that the basic needs center can fill any need that a student may have beyond food,” Beil said. “Basic needs are more than just food, right? So if you’re in need of food, you may also be in need of a winter coat or some shoes that you can wear to walk across campus, or some pots and pans to cook the food that you’re taking home with you.”

GVL / Aida Dennis

Beil said all students can use either Replenish location, regardless of where students live or what their income guidelines are. Students have up to three visits per month where they can access either Replenish room. To browse the resources at Replenish, students scan their IDs or put in their student G-number.

“Our ideology is that basic needs aren’t basic, they’re essential. We want to make sure that the space is welcoming and inclusive to students and recognizing that students have a lot that they’re balancing,” Beil said.

Both Replenish locations have limits on the number of items that students can take to ensure there is enough to serve everybody. In the food pantry space, students can take one or two of each item. In the basic needs space, students can take five items in total.

“We want to reduce those barriers and make it easier for you (students) to get through school and to focus on your education and not have to worry about having a winter coat and having food to eat for dinner,” Beil said. “It shouldn’t be hard to access basic needs, and it should be just a very, very simple process.”

Beil said the goal of Replenish is to remove the stigma and shame students may feel when they need extra assistance for basic resources and services. Beil said students should be able to have resources like Replenish and the Basic Needs Center to turn to when they are in need without fearing judgment from others.

“There’s nothing uncomfortable or wrong with accessing basic needs services,” Beil said. “A big part of this expansion is recognizing that students need more basics than just food access, we want to make sure they are able to go home and cook the food they have, or have the school supplies that they need to be able to be successful.” 

Caroline Carlson, a senior at GVSU, is on the Eboard of the GVSU Rotaract Club. Rotaract is a student-run club that volunteers and plans community outreach events to give back. Carlson said Replenish is a valuable resource.

“I totally think that Replenish is a really really important part of GV’s campus because it allows for accessibility to needs that students may not be able to get themselves,” Carlson said. “It’s really great that they are including basic personal items and clothing because some students may not be able to get those things themselves and that should not in any way keep them from their education.”  

Carlson believes having access to personal care items allows students to fuel their bodies and stay warm in the winter, which is vital in order to remain successful during lectures and busy school days.

“It is actually quite a crazy number of college students that are food insecure, so I can only imagine how many students can’t get these basic personal care items on their own either,” Carlson said. “Everyone has a right to these basic needs, and I really love that Replenish is actually making that possible.”

Beil said she and the rest of the Replenish staff are ecstatic about the expansion to the Basic Needs Center and want to bring students in, both to donate and to take advantage of the support that is available.

“We just, in the last month of October, served 429 students, which is the biggest number we’ve ever seen in the history of this great program, which is amazing,” Beil said. “(It) really is a testament to the fact that this is a need and it’s a really important resource for students to have.”

Replenish is currently open on the Allendale campus Monday through Friday from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. and is located on the lower level of the Kirkhof Center in room 74. Replenish also has services on the GVSU Pew campus and in the Cook-DeVos Center for Health Sciences.

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