Campus pantries serve students with food insecurity


Jonathan Gossett

Senior Cindy Alcala grabs a food item from the ARC Food Assistance and Well-Being Program on Oct. 10. Pantries like the one at the ARC provide food for students and community members facing food insecurity.

By Royal Shrestha, Contributing Writer

Amartya Shah, sophomore in Engineering and Allen Hall resident, didn’t think he’d need to make use of a local food pantry this semester, until his appetite led him to the food pantry at the ARC.

“Having a meal plan doesn’t necessarily mean I don’t have food insecurities; it is in fact quite the opposite,” Shah said. “I often find myself having to skip out on eating breakfast or dinner on some days just to have enough meal swipes for the week.”  

Since late August, pantries such as the Food Assistance & Well-Being Program at the ARC and Uniplace Community Dinner at the University Place Christian Church have opened up for students with food insecurity. 

The pantries in the ARC and Uniplace Community Dinner are open to all students, even those living in residential dorms, replete with hot to-go and single-serve canned meals.

Shah added with the limited food options at dining halls, pantries like the ARC and Uniplace Community Dinner have helped him when he ran out of meal swipes or when he wanted to try something new. 

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Alana Harris, assistant director for Student Wellness at the ARC, has recognized the food insecurities students have been facing and said that “hundreds of students have utilized the service since the opening on Aug. 25, with over 20 students each day.” 

“Our shopper-style program seems to be the most well-received among students and helps minimize food waste,” Harris said. 

Before opening, Harris and her team at the ARC did extensive research and collaborated with other existing pantries, such as the Wesley Food Bank, with locations at Burrill Hall and Parkland College. Harris found many students preferred single-serve meals and fresh produce, which is what the ARC pantry currently has in place.  

“Popular foods students have requested can be found here, and they can even request certain options using our Amazon food wish list,” Harris said.

Uniplace Community Dinner serves on Wednesdays from 6-7 p.m. and gives students the option to grab to-go dinners. The pantry’s workers recognize more students than ever are facing food insecurities during the pandemic and allow students to grab multiple dinners if needed. 

“I have been using the services at Uniplace for over a year now and enjoy the fresh-cooked meals, and this pandemic has definitely not changed that,” Shah said. 

Shah added these services are for the students and open to the public where they shouldn’t be afraid to use it. Everyone has been affected by the pandemic. Harris described how all types of students come in to use the pantries’ service. In addition, the ARC pantry also has an educational component to guide students for making better food choices. 

“Students in our pantry are from the Food Science and Nutrition Program on campus and have developed some educational resources for students,” Harris said. 

Topics within the program include preventing food waste, making low-cost and healthy items and making healthy foods. 

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