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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Ending food insecurity

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The UA Campus Pantry works to eliminate food insecurity by providing nonperishable goods at no cost to students and faculty. 

The UA Campus Pantry gives students and faculty the opportunity to pick up nonperishable food staples at no cost and will open its doors for another distribution on Friday.

The pantry’s main goal is to reduce food insecurity by supplying food staples for free. Students and staff only need a CatCard to access all of the nonperishables. Michelle Sun, community director of Residence Life, is the executive director and advisor for the nonprofit organization. She oversees the board of directors and advises the students to make sure the pantry is running smoothly. She was one of the founding members of the pantry.

Food insecurity is the inability to access food on a regular basis, according to Sun. The pantry’s distributions are given twice a month. It is set up like a storefront with a wide variety of nonperishables. Students and staff members come in and shop for a certain number of items that fit their needs, according to Sun. At the checkout, each person weighs the amount of nonperishables they’ve taken that day. At each distribution, the pantry gives away 400-500 pounds of food.

In February 2012, an initial interest meeting was held with all different people across the university to see if there was a need for a food pantry on the UA campus.

“There were students going hungry since meal plans are not required on our campus,” Sun said. “Students had to pick between paying for books or tuition versus eating on a regular basis, because a lot of people don’t realize food insecurity is something college students deal with.”

A stereotype exists that says if college students can afford to pay for higher education, they must be able to afford food on a regular basis, according to Sun. The UA Campus Pantry tries to bridge the gap between the cost of attending college and having the means to eat on a regular basis.

“We try to make the university more inclusive and a better learning environment for students experiencing food insecurity,” Sun said.

Mariel Wilk, an elementary education senior, is a board member in the UA Campus Pantry. She and the other board members run the distribution process and market and manage the pantry.

When she saw there was a need for the pantry, she said she got involved.

“I was fortunate enough not to be in this situation,” Wilk said.

Berkeley Harris, a junior studying public management and policy, has been a UA Campus Pantry board member since 2012. She said she helps with the administrative side of the pantry and wherever else she is needed.

“The college student population isn’t thought about when it comes to food insecurity,” Harris said.

The food available at the pantry consists of peanut butter, jelly, soups, ramen, canned fruits and vegetables, cereals, granola bars and citrus. The pantry sometimes receives fresh produce from the organization Waste Not and the UA Community Garden, according to Harris.

“I love being at the distribution and seeing the impact we are making,” Harris said. “The sense of community the pantry can build, as well as helping them have fuel to study and do better in college without worrying about not eating.”

The distribution will be held on Friday from 2-5 p.m. in El Portal.

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Follow Amber White on Twitter.

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