Campus Pantry provides free food for UA community
Kelsee Becker / Arizona Daily Wildcat
Graduate Community Director Michelle Sun and Sophomore Mariel Will, members of The UA Campus Pantry Board, organize donated goods before the Feb. 1 opening. Similar to other campuses across the country, UA Campus Pantry is an emergency food pantry available for those in need within the UA Community.
A new nonprofit organization on campus will provide a direct response to the growing need of the student population for increased aid and resources on campus.
The UA Campus Pantry was first chartered in January 2012, along with a small group of student volunteers who wanted to serve the UA’s students and staff, according to Mariel Wilk, an elementary education sophomore and director of communication and outreach.
The pantry is committed to helping students who suffer from food insecurity gain access to the resources they need through donations. So far the organization has collected 300 pounds of food that has either been donated or purchased with donated funds.
“This can be something that people can come to so they don’t have to worry from day to day about food and they can feel comfortable coming to an open event like this and not feel ashamed,” Wilk said. “It relieves a lot of problems that they are having so they can enjoy their college lives more and know that there is support for them out there.”
In addition to the pantry, the nonprofit organization has auxiliary programs to provide additional resources to students, including a nutrition program and a community education program.
“I really hope that students view this as a viable resource to relieve the burden of these worries,” said Davis Bauer, a marketing junior and director of marketing for the pantry. “The prices around some of the U-Marts at [the] UA are astronomical and I would like them to view it as a resource to aid students who can’t afford to buy high-cost groceries on campus.”
The number-one problem on the UA campus is the lack of accessibility to low-cost groceries, according to Bauer. He said the pantry will help people who do not have access to these resources.
“On Friday, if we have five people show up, just knowing that we made a difference, I will be completely satisfied,” said John Beeler, a pre-marketing and entrepreneurship sophomore and chairman of the UA Campus Pantry. “I want to see the number of people we can help expand every time, but if one person’s life is improved by our operation, then we are achieving our goal.”
The UA Campus Pantry will continue to hold events on the first Friday of every month. UA students and staff with a CatCard will be served at the event on Friday.
Donated foods include overproduced or discontinued items, frozen foods, mislabeled goods and a variety of donated canned goods.
Students will volunteer at the official launch Friday, working two-hour shifts that include setting up, opening, operating and cleaning up. The launch of the UA Campus Pantry will take place from 3 to 6 p.m. at El Portal.
“I am volunteering because I think that not a lot of people realize the struggle that students go through and I think it is really good for people who go to the same campus to give back to their fellow students,” said Natalie Morice, a public health sophomore. “It really gives a sense of community.”