Fontbonne’s Griffin Market Celebrates First Anniversary
One year ago, Jan. 24, Fontbonne University opened the Griffin Market, which provides meal items and toiletries to students, staff and faculty in need and helps decrease the stigma surrounding food insecurity. As the Griffin Market enters its second year, Fontbonne assistant professor Jamie Daugherty reflects on the market’s successes and discusses its goals for the future.
Q: Why did Fontbonne open the Griffin Market?
A: Food insecurity is a common issue both locally and nationwide, especially among college students. The majority struggle with some sort of financial challenge, whether it be room and board, books or even parking. As a result, many do not get enough to eat, so we wanted to find a convenient way to provide the Fontbonne community with variety of healthy food items and toiletries at no cost.
Q: How does the Market destigmatize the need for food and toiletries?
A: The individuals working at the Market are often students who are volunteering their time. Because it is largely a student-run support service, those from the Fontbonne community enjoy coming to the Market because fellow students are helping them. People using the Market see the Market staff as peers who understand what they are going through because they are also paying for their education. It’s a judgement-free environment where people feel welcome.
Q: How many items has the Griffin Market received since the grand opening?
A: As of December 2019, we have served more than 120 people, culminating in about 515 visits and more than 5,000 donations received.
Q: How have you raised awareness about the Griffin Market since its opening?
A: People have heard about the Griffin Market through a variety of sources, including fliers distributed around campus, emails, outreach tables we’ve set up, and even just walking by, but the majority have discovered the Market by word of mouth. I’m floored by how many people have found out about the Market because their friends or instructors recommended it.
Q: How will you continue to raise awareness about the Market at Fontbonne and in the broader community in 2020?
A: This semester, we will continue to host outreach tables and events, including a hands-on cooking demonstration in March, which is National Nutrition Month. We’re also partnering with Fontbonne sports teams to raise donations, hosting an open house in February, and plan to reach out to stakeholders who have contact with students, especially first-year and transfer students.
Q: Are there any additional items that will be coming to the Market in 2020?
A: Items that Market users want have often been in stock; however, people have requested more fresh fruits and vegetables. We could potentially meet this need by providing a fresh fruit or vegetable item of the week. We’ll also consider having bagels regularly as well as healthy meats where users can choose one pound of a lean meat per month, provided on a first come first serve basis.
Q: What else can people expect from the Market in 2020?
A: We’re always taking suggestions and ideas for how to improve the Market, including our hours. We have had the ability to be open four days a week for about eight hours a week, which is more time and days than other food support services on other campuses, but we will consider being open one Friday a month and try another early evening time during the spring 2020 semester. We also want to learn more about what users are doing with the items they get at the Market so we can help them make the most of it. For example, we want to provide more educational opportunities about how to cook the food, how they can use the items to supplement what they buy at other grocery stores, and stock basic kitchen tools so people have the equipment they need to prepare food.
Q: What makes the Griffin Market unique compared to other food support services?
A: What amazes me is how easy it has been to raise awareness, recruit volunteers and receive donations. It’s been effortless because the Fontbonne community wants to help their own and build relationships with other faculty, students and staff on campus, and we are incredibly grateful for that. The Griffin Market is an extension of what Fontbonne is all about: people caring for and looking out for one another.
The Griffin Market is located in East 109 and is open Mondays and Wednesdays from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m., Tuesdays from 3 to 5 p.m., and Fridays from 10 to 11 a.m.