During a Sept. 27 ASUCD Senate meeting, Romana Norton, Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) counselor who was involved in the creation The Pantry, expressed concerns over the unit’s recent underutilization. These comments stemmed from complaints from students claiming that The Pantry’s staff and interns do not consist of people who represent enough minority groups on campus.
“People want to get things from people they know,” Norton said during the meeting.
The senators agreed that The Pantry is being underused and agreed to discuss the issue further outside the meeting.
Founded two years ago, The Pantry is an on-campus organization run by students, aiming at providing food for UC Davis students who are struggling financially.
Norton said that she thinks The Pantry goes through misuse.
Some students who consult with Norton revealed that they feel uncomfortable and reluctant to get food from people of different ethnic groups than them. Norton also said that students who may not necessarily need The Pantry are using it more than students who need it.
“It can be a problem when you think you are getting food from people who don’t understand you,” Norton said.
For the purpose of protection, Norton declined to reveal the name of the students who originally expressed unease in using The Pantry.
The Pantry’s current director and junior cultural anthropology major Quincy Kayton said that they hire staff and interns through ASUCD Job Link.
“Each staff member, intern and volunteer in The Pantry represents a diverse background and range of experiences that are unique to them, just as the student body represents an individual array of experiences and concerns,” Kayton said in an email interview.
Rosa Gonzalez, a fourth-year human development major, is currently working at The Pantry and said she thinks that the unit does have diversity in the working group and that any people who would be interested in volunteering are always welcome.
Norton said that because hiring for The Pantry was set up by ASUCD through Aggie Job Link, it is on a first-come, first-served basis.
According to Norton, students who are in better financial conditions working at The Pantry may deter students who need the food the most.
Quincy disagreed with this statement over an email interview and said that this claim is unfounded.
“It is impossible to judge the financial stability of a student simply by looking at them,” she said.
Many students who are most often using The Pantry do not share this worry, either.
“People there are nice. I try to come here like three times a week. It saves money and time,” said a fourth-year who has been using The Pantry since it was founded.
Norton and Kayton are meeting to discuss the complaints. No consensus has been reached at this point.
The Pantry is located on campus in 21 Lower Freeborn and is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 11 a.m. and Monday through Thursday from 5 to 6 p.m. Students must present a valid UC Davis student ID Card.
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