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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

Campus Pantry gets a more centralized living space in Student Union

Campus+Pantry+gets+a+more+centralized+living+space+in+Student+Union

The UA Campus Pantry program, a student-run nonprofit committed to helping students who face food insecurity, now has a new home.

The Arizona Student Unions donated a space in the Student Union Memorial Center to serve as Campus Pantry’s new living space.

Berkley Harris, the Campus Pantry director of communications and co-founding board member, and a senior studying public management and policy, said that moving to a new location has been a long-time goal.

“This move has been one of our hopes for a very long time because we know that being in the Union is great—not only location wise because it’s central, but it also gives us more visibility so that we can show students that we are a service and we’re there to help,” she said.

Harris said that one of the biggest issues Campus Pantry has faced has been letting students know about the program, which was first chartered in 2012.

Molly Hansen, a communications senior and director of outreach for Campus Pantry, said that while the program has reached a good number of people in past food distributions, she hopes to reach more from moving to a more centralized location.

“We’ve distributed about 1,800 pounds of food in the past academic school year to students and staff in need,” Hansen said. “We get about 30 to 40 people per distribution and hope to increase that number now that we are in a more accessible space.”

Hansen, who has been a part of Campus Pantry since 2012, said the it has changed and grown over the past few years.

“Last year, we had storage facilities in Villa del Puente and Likins Residence Halls,” she said. “We would transport the food to El Portal, the Residence Life office, in shopping carts, and set up the distribution in a conference room. This year, we moved most of our inventory to Babcock Hall. We were located in the lounge and we set up the distributions there, but now we’re in the student union.”

Harris said last November marked the beginning of meetings with Arizona Student Unions. They surprised her with the new space last month when she was expecting to go into another meeting.

Director of Arizona Student Unions, Todd Millay, thinks the program is now better able to handle addressing those with food insecurity in the new location.

“We’re in a good position to leverage our relationships and help out the whole community that’s food deficient right now, giving Campus Pantry some new tools to work with,” he said.

Millay said when he visited Campus Pantry at Babcock with Students for Sustainability program coordinator Chet Phillips and Michael Omo, the student union’s executive chef, he knew they could help.

They found an old storage room which they cleared out, cleaned and painted to be bright and welcoming.

“It’s near our loading docks, which is important because now that they have a room that has size and storage capabilities, we can help coordinate logistics of food donations coming in,” Millay said.

He said it was important to find a facility that was discreet for those who have food insecurity. They also put a refrigerator that would allow Campus Pantry to store milk and dairy and distributing healthier items.

The program receives most of its funding from the Graduate and Professional Student Council and the Green Fund, and gets most donations now from the Student Union, Residence Life, Whole Foods, Thai Market, Ishkashitaa, Students for Sustainability, Campus Health and from clubs and organizations who hold food drives, according to Millay.

“Now that we have a permanent home, we’re hoping to increase the amount of distributions that we have, reach more people at each distribution, continue providing the diverse food options and increasing the nutrition level while increasing awareness of food insecurity on campus,” Harris said. “It’s completely anonymous, you just need to show your CatCard so we can make sure there is an affiliation with UA, and then you can take seven or eight items, depending on our inventory.

The cost for the new location was minimal since they already had the room, electric outlets, Wi-Fi, painters on staff, a cold storage refrigerator that needed to be repaired and shelving donated by the UA Bookstore, according to Millay.

He said they bought new paint for the room, as well as plastic bags and some baskets to get them started, and so they only spent roughly around $100 to $200.

Millay said this move was a creative solution and that cost going forward will be minimal since they made better use of a room they already had.

The Arizona Student Unions, however, do not own Campus Pantry, and Campus Pantry does not own the space or supplies that have been provided.

“I can’t say it’s permanent forever, but as far as I envision, they have a new home here for a long, long time and we welcome and want them here,” Millay said.

He said Arizona Student Unions and Campus Pantry do not have a binding contract, but rather a memo of understanding that basically states that as long as the memorandum of understanding is signed yearly, then Campus Pantry will be granted permission to use the space.

“We have lots of support from the community and campus, which continues to grow,” Harris said. “It’s really great that the [Student] Union is very supportive of students’ efforts to help out the Wildcat community.”

Campus Pantry’s next distribution is Friday at El Portal and the first distribution at their new location will be April 15 from noon to 3 p.m.


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