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Davis, California

Sunday, March 3, 2024

On-campus food pantry on the rise

After opening on Jan. 13 of this year, The Pantry has been feeding students during particularly tough economic times.

The Pantry is an ASUCD unit that provides students with an opportunity to obtain a meal or other basic necessities at no cost. There’s a no-questions-asked policy – students need only to provide a valid UC Davis ID card in order to receive up to three points worth of items per day. Each item is given a point value, such as a large can of soup at three points or a granola bar at one point.

“Giving out food was our first goal, but the larger goal is combating hunger at UC Davis,” said Justin Gold, co-founder of The Pantry.

Since its opening, The Pantry has seen an increase in students, hours and donations.

As of now, the unit is serving between 300 and 500 students on a weekly basis and has a record of 101 students served in one day, said Hannah Kirshner, director of The Pantry.

“With the growing number of students, we have been able to keep serving meals, keep our inventory stocked, expand menu and services, add wider variety of personal hygienic items and food and hopefully expand to non-perishable foods such as dried fruit,” Kirshner said.

The Pantry has expanded its hours due to an abundance of individuals willing to volunteer. The regular hours, Monday through Friday, noon to 2 p.m., now include Monday through Wednesday, 5 to 6 p.m. at its 21 Lower Freeborn Hall location.

Growing donations from businesses and companies help The Pantry stay sustainable. The Pantry operates on a subsidy from ASUCD, donations, fundraisers and businesses. Food comes from places such as Campbell Soup, Malt-O-Meal, Sprouts Market and the Yolo County Wayfarer. New businesses have joined the cause and are becoming active donors as well. The Grocery Outlet has also recently begun donating bread.

One of the ways that The Pantry has been successful has been through backstocking and weekly restocking. Backstocking means to have extra products on hand to restock the shelves between deliveries. Some donations are given in bulk, such as the 2,000 pounds of cans of Campbell’s soup at the unit’s opening. According to Kirshner, The Pantry then plans ahead and rations them out throughout the year between deliveries so as to not run out.

“The backstock and weekly stock systems maintain inventory and allow us to remain open the entire quarter,” Kirshner said.

In addition, The Pantry has been working toward new projects and endeavors in education.

Partnering with a nutritionist, a one-time, free cooking class will be offered called Cooking on a Budget. The class will be on how to cook meals that are healthy, easy to make and budget friendly. It will be on May 18, 3:30 to 5 p.m., at the Student Health and Wellness Center, in the third-floor conference room.

The Pantry is also working on printing an education brochure detailing places for free meals in Davis for students.

In mid-May, budget hearings will determine The Pantry’s subsidy from ASUCD. The proposed amount is $2,245.

“Now that we have shown that The Pantry is successful, we are asking to be treated as another unit and be paid the basic funds that most units get,” said Kirshner. “The senators have been extremely supportive from the beginning, so there’s no reason to believe that they won’t continue being supportive.”

AMIR BEGOVIC can be reached at campus@theaggie.org.

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