The Student Food Support Pantry: Meals Free Of Charge

Money is a common concern among students pursuing higher education. For some, spending habits are frivolous and their investments usually end up adding to their already stressful studies, while others track their budgets carefully, especially those enrolled here via scholarships, as they don’t want to spend a large chunk of those precious funds on dining or grocery shopping. Luckily for them, a food pantry, located on the northern side of North Hall across from the Fitness Center, offers a solution that is free of charge. The pantry is stocked during holidays and breaks. 

“We do get visitors quite often,” said Heaven Rivera, a graduate student and one of the student workers who oversees the pantry. According to Rivera, roughly 20 to 30 students visit the pantry every week. A sign-in sheet keeps track of visitors.

The pantry began in the Fall 2018 semester, originally located on the second floor of Hunsaker before moving to its current location in North Hall, adjacent to the building’s main entrance.The different food items in the pantry are available to all full-time and part-time U of R students. Selections include a variety of cereal, meats, soups, ingredients for sandwiches, dried and canned goods, and other non-perishable items. Seasonal produce, courtesy of the Sustainable University of Redlands Farm (S.U.R.F.), is also available. Rivera explains that the selection depends on the food banks the university works with. Among them is Feeding America, a nonprofit organization, which offers resources to college campuses and other related entities such as this one. 

Additional donations are supplied by Community Action Partnership of San Bernardino County (CAPSBC) Food Bank, with whom the university is actively working to have a full partnership, Rivera stated. “We currently are in the process of awaiting approval of an application, so hopefully we should be partnering with them,” Rivera said of the CAPSBC Food Bank. This would mean a more diverse variety of food available for the pantry. Some selections are also bought from some of the local grocery stores here in Redlands. “Each week we have our student workers get groceries from Stater Bros,” Rivera added. 

However, wares aren’t limited to food banks and grocery runs. Students have the ability to donate food to the pantry under the supervision of the Volunteer Center. “The only thing we ask is that [students] contact the Volunteer Center so a member of our team can help them with unloading, depending on how many donations they have,” said Rivera. She shared that the Volunteer Center is strict about the kinds of food stocked in the pantry. Specifically,  their guidelines state that donations should be sealed, properly packaged, and not past their expiration date.

Information regarding the food pantry can be found on course syllabi of various classes on campus. According to Rivera, the pantry’s motto is “take what you need and leave what you can.” She and her fellow student workers want students to know that the food pantry is an available resource to anyone. 

“Experiencing hunger is a real thing, especially on a college campus, so I hope that they will use it but also leave what others need,” Rivera concluded. “I really hope that they don’t feel that they can’t use [the pantry]. Having been a struggling college student, I personally know what it can be like to not afford using the Commons.”

Photo by Eleanor Bachmeier.

Wylie Harris is a grad student majoring in Music Composition. He is a practitioner and avid admirer of both written music and written word. Outside of music and writing, he enjoys exercising in the gym, swimming laps in the pool, and taking walks across campus.

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