Penn State Student-Run Food Pantry Serves Fellow Students In Need
About five years ago a group of Penn State students at University Park recognized a problem surrounding students who stuggle to afford groceries.
So they started a food bank for students. And over the past two years, the Lion’s Pantry has worked to keep the shelves stocked for students in need.
Sayre Bradley, the president, feels passionately about the mission of making sure students have enough to eat.
“So as the club our main goal is to focus on raising awareness for food security and related issues like student poverty, student hunger because those are issues that have a lot of stigma surrounding them and part of our goal is to not only make people aware of these issues on campus but to eliminate that stigma,” said Bradley.
According to the “Trends in College Pricing” report of 2019, Pennsylvania has the third highest in-state tuition costs in the country and the most amount of debt post graduation in the Big 10, as reported by the Department of Education.
The club’s outreach coordinator, Spencer Wallace, said often students are so busy worrying about debt that food is the last thing on their minds.
“A lot of people are left behind, especially the middle class, lower class they can’t afford to go to college and when you can’t afford to go to college or you’re in debt, you try to get that education and eating healthy food is kind of the last priority there and without healthy food or a healthy meal you’re not going to succeed in your education,” said Wallace.
The Lion’s Pantry is trying to address that. Any Penn State student can show up as long as they have their Penn State ID. A sign on the desk at the pantry tells students to take as much as they need.
In the last two years, the pantry has gained significant university and state-wide recognition. It received funds from the class of 2017 class gift, and Frances Wolf, the first lady of Pennsylvania, visited in November.
“Having a food pantry makes sure that have some kind of stability in knowing where meals come from," Wolf said.
Students also have started to take note of ways that they can help the pantry.
Emily Griffin, the club’s volunteer coordinator, said that they never have a problem finding volunteers. In fact most weeks, they are forced to turn students away because there is not enough work for everyone.
“People are realizing that food insecurity is a big deal and that it’s something that might not be obvious but, it does exist and it’s kind of an easy way to get involved and impact a lot of students,” said Griffin.
In years to come, the club hopes to see a day when there is no longer a need for the Lions Pantry on campus. But until then, they’re hoping to get a refrigeration system so they can collect fruits, vegetables and meat.
To donate to the Lion’s Pantry you can drop off non-perishable, unopened, and unexpired items during the hours of 2-6 p.m. on Friday and Sunday and 3-6 p.m. on Tuesday.