By Rebecca Edwards ’21
“The U.S. has enough food to feed itself eight times over,” Fatiya Kedir says. “It’s just the accessibility that’s not there, and that’s really hard to hear. I want to work on this long-term.”
Fatiya Kedir ’21 keeps the Kagin Commons kitchen carefully stocked each week with produce, snack foods, instant dinners, canned goods, hygiene products, and more. On Mondays and Fridays, students can anonymously take as much as they need—the program is called Open Pantry, and it’s part of Kedir’s mission to combat food insecurity on campus.
For Kedir, the subject is personal. She’s from the Cedar-Riverside neighborhood in Minneapolis, where food insecurity is no small concern. Watching hunger impact her community spurred her passion for eradicating its influence at Macalester.
Kedir believes that food insecurity at colleges and universities is a problem oft overlooked but ever present. “There’s such a huge need,” Kedir says. “One-sixth of Macalester students are Pell Grant-eligible—their home income falls in a range where they could be considered food insecure, which means that you don’t have access to nutritious meal options three times a day.”
As Macalester College Student Government (MCSG)’s vice president, Kedir has prioritized improving access to basic needs items. She partnered with MCSG president Blair Cha ’20 and senior class representative Jason Kohn ’20 this year to address those needs in other ways, too. “We want to make sure there are options for food over spring break, when Cafe Mac closes for cleaning,” Kedir says. “That one week leads to huge spikes of food insecurity around campus, and that’s actually when we see Open Pantry used the most.”
After conversations with administrators, students now have additional funds to help meet that need, which continued to surge in the weeks surrounding spring break this year with more students on campus than usual because of COVID-19 concerns. Some campus partners contributed out of pocket. Student organizations have also pitched in: when the Outing Club cancelled spring break trips because of the public health crisis, the group donated the food it had purchased.
In February, Kedir was elected MCSG president for the 2020-21 academic year. In that role, she hopes to continue to make big strides toward equal access at Mac. In addition to expanding Open Pantry hours, she wants to provide students with a way to donate unused meal swipes, so that those in need can benefit from the otherwise wasted meals.
Kedir hopes to pursue this work after graduation, too. “The U.S. has enough food to feed itself eight times over,” Kedir says. “It’s just the accessibility that’s not there, and that’s really hard to hear. I want to work on this long-term.”
March 18 2020Back to top