ABOVE: The student food pantry in Sutton is stocked with various kinds of nonperishable items. Students are allowed to use the pantry as a way to suppress their hungry for a couple of days. (Lauren Sieh/Staff photographer)
By Lauren Sieh
When most people find out that there is a food pantry on campus, their reaction is, “We have a food pantry on campus?”
Yes, indeed we do. It is located on the top floor of Sutton in the Student Affairs Office. Students are welcome to come during normal office hours, which are 8am to 5pm, or during after-hours with notifying security or the vice president of student affairs, Dan Falk.
The idea for a campus food pantry began as a student project. This project caught the attention of Falk and he put the idea into motion. Falk called a committee together consisting of himself and seven other staff members. Staff members involved were Ed Loeb, faculty athletic representative, Melinda Current, clinical education coordinator, Terah York, student accounts coordinator, Linda Weippert, associate vice president for academic administration operations, Steve Kramer, assistant director for advising and student success, Sarah Hallinan, director of residence life, and Anjaih Clemons, director of campus life.
“I just put a group of people together. I did not think it would be smart for me just to try to do it by myself. You really need to make it collaborative. That’s the best way because for one, I don’t know everything and cannot think of everything. Two, you want people to feel like they are a part of something special and they can really help students,” said Falk.
After a couple months of meeting and creating guidelines and policies, the committee was ready to open up the pantry for students to use. Around Thanksgiving break is when it opened. This is strictly for students of Southwestern College. Due to the break and only a hand full of students being on campus, the pantry served less students than they would have if school were in session.
Clemons said, “I want to say over Thanksgiving we gave out between 6 to 8 bags of food. We always try to have ten ready and available.” She continued, “Since then I am aware of one other student that has gotten a bag.”
When the pantry starts to get low on food, a committee member or two will go out and shop for the food themselves with the funds or donations provided for the student pantry.
“We obtain the food through cash donations. Then we will go to Walmart or Dillions, which ever one gives us a better deal. We have basic food items like peanut butter and we will compare the prices,” said Kramer.
Last December, campus life organization, Student Foundation, hosted a free movie night. StuFu gave out free concession vouchers for a canned food donation. They usually donate the collected items to the Winfield Food Pantry, but this time donations went to the food pantry on campus.
Southwestern’s pantry is fully stocked as of today. It consists of nonperishable food and foods with a longer shelf life. These foods include cereal, crackers, soups, canned meats, granola bars, canned vegetables and fruits. They also provide what they call ‘choose option’. In this section, there are ramon noodles, mac and cheese, grape jelly and sometimes even bread or fresh fruit.
An individual bag is said to last a student three days and consists of $20 worth of food. According to Falk, the committee is able to feed five students with just $100.
Whether you are short on money or do not have the resources to obtain food, the student food pantry is a good option for you to look into.
Lauren Sieh is a sophomore majoring in communication. You may email her at email@example.com.