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The Iowa Standard is a free online news source so we can reach as many people as possible. But we need to raise money! We are asking our readers to help support us as a news alternative entering 2020. If you could, please consider showing a sign of support to The Iowa Standard by making a contribution here.  Or, you can use Venmo and make a contribution to @Iowa-Standard-2018. 

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In early 2018, DMACC announced it would offer a food pantry on campus for students. Sheila Aukes, a counselor at the Ankeny campus, said the college would use money from the Parenting Assistant Fund to focus on students who are parents or expecting.

“The goal of the grant is to help students with very concrete needs,” Aukes said in a Jan. 30, 2018 article on WHO-TV. “Whether it is nutritional counseling, medical issues, dental services, child care so here at DMACC we are providing the food pantry.”

Provost Drew Nelson said there was likely a pantry prior to this one in Boone, which was established about a year and a half ago. However, that was an informal thing.

“Now we’ve got it right in our student center,” Nelson said. “It’s centrally located and very public.”

Assistant provost, Dr. Rachel Erkkila, said with the issue of food insecurity being a concern, the food pantry can help provide a supplement in situations.

Over time the pantry has expanded its offerings. Erkkila said DMACC’s honor students made it part of their honors project to try and expand the sort of items available at the pantry.

“They were the driving factor in making that food pantry a little bit more public and easier to access for our students,” Erkkila said.

It’s mostly students, faculty and staff who patron the pantry.

“This is really something where we want to help as many people as we can,” Nelson said. “We really haven’t had very many problems where we think people are overly taking advantage of it. It’s strictly a volunteer thing where we basically provide the space, a little signage and our faculty and staff are mostly the ones who donate. The students can come get what they need.”

Erin Neumann is essentially the manager of the pantry, but she is busy at this time of year and was not available for comment. Erkkila said Neumann is the administration’s “boots on the ground.”

“The decisions that she is making are based on consultation with administration both here and district wide,” Erkkila said.

Most of the items at the pantry are donations. Neumann makes sure things get placed in the pantry and basically oversees the inventory.

“If somebody is looking to donate, she can say they really need peanut butter and tampons,” Erkkila said. “And things along those lines.”

On Friday, The Iowa Standard asked Nelson about the presence of Back Slide anal lubrication being available at the food pantry. Nelson was caught off guard.

“That would not have belonged there, it had to have been left there by someone as a joke,” he said. “It would not be something we would stock. I don’t stock things myself, I only go down there once in a while, but that would not be something that we would keep in stock there. I can’t imagine…”

While he was skeptical of the anal lubricant being available, he did note the college put condoms “all over campus, very much on purpose.”

After Nelson looked into it, he emailed The Iowa Standard.

“I did check out and found the product in question on a lower shelf along with a number of other sexual health and safety products,” he said. “When you told me the name, I thought it was some weird joke product. It’s actually just a brand name for a lubricant, albeit maybe not in the best of taste. I believe we get an assortment of products designed for prevention and safety and marketed to colleges. Having now seen how unobtrusive the packaging is, I now get why it’s there.”

On Tuesday afternoon, The Iowa Standard talked with Erkkila. She was not alarmed at the presence of the product at all.

“We have all kinds of products there related to sexual health, just like we have personal hygiene and self-care items that are also important for our students’ health,” she said. “We stock all kinds of condoms. We have all kinds of varieties of lubrication for all kinds of different sexual activity and intercourse. We have condoms and the like in our dispensaries across our campus. I believe that’s a district-wide situation.”

Erkkila said there is no reason to consider the food pantry to be an inappropriate place for the items.

“As far as I’m concerned, where ever students can get access to things to help them stay healthy — we know that there’s a rise in STDs across the state,” she said. “So, accessibility and ease of access is certainly something that we want to make available to our students.”

The products are available in all of the restrooms. Faculty are allowed to have the products in their classrooms or in their offices.

“We’ve not restricted it to say it needs to be in a particular place,” she said. “We don’t mandate as far as faculty and staff participation is concerned.”

I asked about potential concerns of children being in the food pantry.

“It’s accessible to little kids, but I can say we have policies on campus that you can’t have children on campus who are unattended,” Erkkila said. “If a child is unattended I’d suppose they’d have access to that. I’d be disappointed parents were not in control of the situation.”

To follow up, I asked about high school students visiting the campus on a college visit. Would those individuals be able to stock up on these products?

“It’s a public building, absolutely,” Erkkila said. “There’s no charge for the products, so absolutely it would be available to anyone who is there.”

The Iowa Standard is a free online news source so we can reach as many people as possible. But we need to raise money! We are asking our readers to help support us as a news alternative entering 2020. If you could, please consider showing a sign of support to The Iowa Standard by making a contribution here.  Or, you can use Venmo and make a contribution to @Iowa-Standard-2018. 

You could also send a check to:
PO Box 112
Sioux Center, IA 51250

Jacob Hall

Author: Jacob Hall