As the cost of tuition and textbooks continue to rise, many college students are trying to save money in any way that they can. This often means cutting back on food spending which then results in neglecting to maintain a proper and healthy diet. In an attempt to solve this food insecurity crisis, on Pacific’s campus in particular, the Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) is preparing to open a food pantry.
The CCE has sponsored several projects over the years. They have gotten students and faculty involved in working and volunteering at locations and organizations all around Oregon, all for the betterment of the community. However, recently, their focus has shifted back to helping the Forest Grove community and campus as worries over food insecurity continue to grow.
“Food insecurity is not having access to food or being prevented from the basic rights or needs of food,” Senior and CCE Model Citizen Jared Kawatani said. Kawatani is also one of the lead project supervisors working to develop the food pantry.
The food pantry, which will be accessible to all Pacific students, faculty and staff both from the undergraduate and graduate campuses, will open its doors on Nov. 9 and be located in Scott Hall 216.
The food pantry’s hours of operation will run from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and then from 3:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. every Tuesday and Friday throughout the academic school year.
There is currently no screening process in place for those who can and cannot access the food pantry, however, a valid Boxer ID will be required for admittance and customers will be limited to only taking five items a week.
According to Stephanie Stokamer, the director of the CCE, the idea of a food pantry on campus has been in development for years, however, is just now getting the funds and support it needs to become a reality.
“This is one of those ideas that has come from a variety of different places that has gelled into one over time,” Stokamer said. “The food pantry is fresh and exciting, but since it’s a new project, it’s going to take a lot of time and energy to get things running smoothly and efficiently.”
The CCE has been working closely with various clubs and organizations around campus, including the Greek Senate and Rotaract Club, in an attempt to start collecting and amassing non-perishable foods and canned goods for the pantry through various events and fundraisers.
The CCE has also been in contact with B-Street Farms and local grocery stores, attempting to get as many food donations as possible prior to the pantry’s actual opening.
“We are trying to keep the food available to people in the food pantry as healthy as possible,” Kawatani said. “We want students to have access to healthy foods in particular.”
The Undergraduate Student Senate (USS) has also played an integral part in helping to start the food pantry on campus and have recently donated $800 to the CCE for start-up costs.
Both Kawatani and Stokamer hope the food pantry will remain a staple on Pacific’s campus for years to come and are optimistic that it will be a recurring presence at Pacific, instead of an initiate that will fizzle out after its first few years.
“My feeling is that the more we can set up structures and systems that don’t just depend on one student’s or club’s interest, the more likely it is that we will be able to continue these projects over time,” Stokamer said.
The ultimate dream for both Stokamer and Kawatani is that there will one day be no need for the food pantry and that food insecurity will no longer exist.
“Its important that students don’t feel the need to be in the shadows because of this problem, its something that a lot of people face and that many people can readily understand,” Stokamer said. “College is expensive and a lot of people are already making a sacrifice to be here. They shouldn’t have to also sacrifice their health and what they eat in order to be further their education.”