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Alumnae who founded food pantry return for ceremony

Posted on September 23, 2016

Grand Valley's student food pantry grew from two Rubbermaid tubs to a file cabinet drawer to its current location in the Kirkhof Center that resembles a small convenience store.

The two alumnae who founded the pantry marveled at the new space September 22, during a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Susana Villagomez-Barajas, ’11, and Rachael DeWitt, ’11, said they never would have guessed that casual conversations in 2009 about helping students would turn into Replenish, which has dedicated pantry space with shelves, space for clothing and refrigeration capabilities.

"This is a very exceptional feeling," said Villagomez-Barajas, who earned a bachelor's degree in biomedical sciences. "This far exceeds my goal of helping students on campus."

Both Villagomez-Barajas and DeWitt were student workers in the Women's Center when the student food pantry launched.

DeWitt, who earned master's degrees in social work and public administration, said the Women's Center staff was instrumental in establishing and maintaining the food pantry. "It's so important to recognize and respond to the problems students are having," she said.

There have been more than 1,000 visits to the pantry since it opened.

The ribbon-cutting ceremony marked the first anniversary event for the Women's Center, which celebrates its 15th year on campus this year.

Replenish is located on the ground floor of Kirkhof Center, room 0074. Learn how to donate items or get involved at