Manhattan, KAN. (KSNT)- When life handed Sarah Barrett lemons, she quickly learned how to make lemonade.
That’s because life hasn’t been easy for Barrett, as one of six children her family struggled in their small Colorado town, “My Christmas’ looked very different,” Barrett said. My Christmas’ were spent at the Salvation Army, my toys often said girls age 9-10.”
It wasn’t just holidays that were tough for Barrett’s family, food was never a guarantee. While that was on tough on Barrett growing up, it didn’t get much easier when she went to college at K-State, “I often times worked 3 jobs,” Barrett said. “I had 2 campus jobs and an evening job and weekend job off campus and just tried my best to meet the needs that I had.” Despite working so much she didn’t just keep the money for herself, she continued to help her family back home, “I would often send money back home,” she said. “I had to make the decision of buying books, or keeping my lights on for my younger brothers.”
Now 31-years-old and working at K-state as the Clery Act Federal Compliance Coordinator, Barrett has come a long way from her days of struggling to make sure there’s food in her fridge. Because of her passion to help others, she helped open a food pantry on campus to make sure no student at K-State ever has to feel the way she once did, “Just like you might go in to see a tutor if you need to supplement your academics,” she said. “You can go in and utilize the food pantry if you need to supplement your groceries.”
The food pantry is in the process of being relocated to the basement of Fairchild Hall on K-States campus, but for the past year and a half its been operating out of the Office of Student Life where Barrett previously worked as an Assistant Dean of Student Life. “We don’t ask questions,” Barrett said. “It’s essentially students that self-identify as having a need they can come in take what they need and what they want and go about their day.”
Barrett knew there were students at K-State that struggled with making sure they had enough food, but it was through a recent survey she realized just how many, “Through a campus wide survey we recognize that about 39.4% of students self-identified as food insecure,” she said. With that number in mind she now has even more drive to help those who may not even be asking for help, but desperately need it. Even Barrett admits, when she was attending K-State and there was no food pantry option available to her, a person would have never have known the struggles she was encountering off campus, “I was happy, I was healthy, I was involved and at home I had nothing to eat. Barrett said. “In my opinion I feel like it’s really difficult to succeed and engage in higher learning if you are sitting in class hungry.”
With Barrett’s and many other’s efforts, hopefully hunger, is never a problem a student at K-State ever has to worry about.
If you would like to help Barrett and others with their mission to support student success they are accepting any nonperishable goods, cookbooks, and toiletry items, as well as donations. Physical items may be donated directly at 009 Fairchild Hall and monetary donations may be made through the K-State foundation online, via phone, or by mail.