Katelyn Chostner, Editor-in-Chief
Food pantries are popping up all over campus thanks to Student Social Services, a division of Student Affairs at the University of Missouri–St. Louis.
This past Wednesday, July 11, Student Social Services held the Tritons Care Food Pantry in the Gallery Visio to help UMSL students in need. They aim to have a pop-up pantry at least once a month. The food pantry featured items that would be appealing and substantial to any college student. There are items that go beyond food, such as laundry detergent, tampons, and toilet paper.
Ashley Johnson, case worker, said, “We want to gear it towards stuff that students are actually using and not just having a room full of things they don’t necessarily want or need.”
Normally, food pantries select canned and dried goods to give to the community. Student Social Services not only does this, but they also create meal kits for students to enjoy. These meal kits include ingredients to make pasta and other dishes. This way they will have the ingredients for a whole meal rather than trying to select items from the pantry to create a dish.
“Email blast are sent out to the campus giving Students the opportunity to select the items they want in their Pantry Pack. Our Hunger Task Force committee helps assemble all the bags in preparation for the pop-up pantry. Surveys were sent out to students who attended the pop-up pantry, 85 percent of students said that they used the supplemental groceries to get them through hardships,” said Johnson
Along with the pop-up food pantry, they also have a full operating pantry at UMSL’s Mansion Hill Clubhouse that is geared towards students who stay on campus and have families. It helps Student Social Services connect with students who have a lot at stake.
Johnson also talked about a mobile market that is coming up September 14. Student Social Services will be partnering with St. Louis Area Food Banks to stock the mobile pantry. It will be located on one of the South Campus parking lots and will be open to the surrounding community. There will be fresh produce, protein, and nonperishables.
The Student Affairs’ division has a plan to create a full operating pantry in the Gallery Visio which is located on the first floor of the Millennium Student Center. This will be great for students who will be traveling to campus and attending classes. Students who have visited the pop-up pantry before will be familiar with the soon-to-be permanent room for the pantry.
Student Social Services had received a grant to fund their food pantries, but the money has recently run dry. A good way to help sustain the goods they need to support students is by running food drives. Student Social Services currently partners with student organizations as well as departments, such as the Information Technology and Alumni Association. This is a great way for people to connect and help others in their community if possible.
According to Johnson, “One of our most prevalent missions to the UMSL community is to address food insecurity on campus. Research has shown that 1 out 5 UMSL students have experienced food insecurity. This data is parallel to national data provided by USDA. If we can help close that gap, student will be able to retain and focus better in their academic settings.”
If you, your student organization or department is interested in giving to Triton Hunger Relief to support Student Social Services visit them at giving.umsl.edu.