Pantry is “by students, for students”

EMMA'LE MAAS, Executive Editor

Fifty-one percent of students claimed to have some degree of food insecurity, according to a survey from this past spring. Whether it is a student who is unsure where their next meal is going to come from, or is unable to purchase all of their daily meals, the brand-new Panther Pantry is open and available seven days a week to help.

The Panther Pantry provides non-perishable food items such as boxed dinners and canned meals to food insecure students, as well as necessity items such as hair brushes, shampoo and toothbrushes.

Within the next two weeks, Program Coordinator Ashley Adams is expecting to add perishable items to the pantry through help from the Northeast Iowa Food Bank. The pantry will acquire meat, eggs, milk and other necessities students need for a healthy meal plan at a discount.

So far, the pantry has received over 1,300 pounds of food, and $12,113 in donations through crowdfunding. Over winter break, the pantry prepared kits for students in need that they could use during the month off. These kits included a few meals and necessity items. Students could pick up the items using their ID.

Adams doesn’t want students to feel “embarrassed” about asking for the help they need, saying that volunteers sign a confidentiality agreement. She focuses on running the pantry “by students, for students,” and hopes that it can continue to grow for years to come.

Sophomore choral music education major Cole Flack said of the pantry, “I think that this is a great idea [for] the university. This makes our community so much more welcoming for those who are unable to afford the necessities for being a great student or just simply having something on a plate.”

Olivia Frick, junior elementary education major, also had positive things to say about the food pantry.

“A food pantry is an incredible idea!” Frick said. “I think it would help a lot of students.”

The main issue the pantry faces is getting the word out to students. Since its opening on Jan. 14 of this year, the pantry has only reached about 60 individual students.

“However, the pantry is well aware of the problem and is actually currently hiring for two different positions on the executive team, including a PR Social Media position as well as a graphic design position. The pantry is also looking for general volunteers and donations. Inquiries about open positions and what is needed donations-wide can be addressed at [email protected]

“What we really need are volunteers,” said Adams.

The Panther Pantry is open to serve students Sunday through Thursday from noon to seven and Friday and Saturday from noon to five. The only qualification to use  the pantry is to be a full-time UNI student, and no one will be turned away for any reason.