The SU Campus Open-Pantry Project
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Why does SU Need a Student Pantry? In the Winter Quarter of 2017, 100 Seattle U students were surveyed about his or her relationship with food security on campus. They spanned school years from freshman to graduate and represented various gender and ethnic identifying backgrounds. 49% of participants reported intentionally skipping meals or going hungry in order to save money and nearly 80% of students expressed interest in having access to a student pantry. With students struggling with financial independence and working towards educational development, basic needs (such as a healthy diet) is often the first area to be neglected. Most importantly, this need can be met simply, with little ongoing maintenance, and even reduce the carbon footprint of the university. Bon Appetit operates in six locations on campus and ends up with hundreds of pounds of excess edible food at the end of daily transactions and frequently occurring events. Where do these leftovers go? The garbage. With properly labeled expiration dates and cycling a First In, First Out rotation in a community refrigerator, recycling these leftovers would not only be saving the campus from contributing to unnecessary environmental waste, they would be providing the means for food struggling students to help themselves. Not only is this a practical solution to address two considerable campus issues, it is senseless not to employ a mutually beneficial strategy.
100% of surveyed students answered 'yes' when asked if the campus should promote this program. 79% of students reported interest in using this program. Surrounding higher education institutions (University of Washington, Seattle Pacific University, and Seattle Central College) all offer food assistance programs to their respective students. The misconception of our student body being one of homogeneous privilege denies the acknowledgment of food insecurity and the reality of basic needs going unmet. While we are fierce champions of community equity and social justice engagement, the SU Campus Open Pantry Project is a small step towards ensuring our message is equally sensitive and effective in our own cohort.
What would this look like? The food pantry program would be accessible to students as a cabinet and refrigerator installation in the Student Center (preferably in the Health and Wellness Center), including perishable and non-perishable goods. Moderated by volunteers to ensure food safety, goods can be dropped off at will by other students/faculty/administrators and would largely offset unnecessary waste from the campus eateries. This would reduce our carbon footprint and go towards supporting students as a self-serve and non-judgement amenity.
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