Feeding the hungry

The PSU Food Pantry, which ASPSU opened in 2010 as a “from students, for students” food donation bin, has recently moved to its permanent home in 325 Smith Memorial Student Union.

The PSU Food Pantry, which ASPSU opened in 2010 as a “from students, for students” food donation bin, has recently moved to its permanent home in 325 Smith Memorial Student Union.

Previously, the food pantry was located in ASPSU’s office. However, the office quickly became an awkward place to store the food, and student government officials faced a lack of privacy and space.

“We finally have an official pantry,” University Affairs Director Laken Harrel said. “Before, people would just wander into our office and ask for food, but now we can provide set hours with a volunteer staff that is there from Monday to Friday.”

There are currently hundreds of cans stocked in the pantry, along with other non-perishable food items. The staff keeps a log of the food that is taken, but the rest of the processis confidential—no student names or IDs are asked for.

The food pantry donations are collected in both the ASPSU office in SMSU room 117 and the new food pantry location. However, other locations are being looked into, including the Women’s Resource Center and the Native American Student and Community Center.

“What we’re currently working on is getting our volunteer spots filled so that our pantry is always fully-staffed,” Harrel said.

With spring term just beginning, the schedules of the staff have left several gaps in the volunteer times. Intern Cameron Plese is currently working on finding more volunteers.

“I jumped on board about a month ago, and have just hit the ground running,” Plese said. “I work at the pantry a couple of hours a week, and am also working on getting donations from classes.”

Plese found out about the food pantry from an extra credit assignment that was offered in Professor Rachel Webb’s Statistics 243 course, “Intro to Statistics.”

“I’m trying to get the word out,” Plese said. “People are still shocked that this kind of a program exists—we want struggling students to stop worrying about putting food on the table and be able to focus on school.”

Former ASPSU Vice President Selina Poulsen first realized the food pantry last year to help students who were struggling to make ends meet. However, when Poulsen resigned in August 2010, other ASPSU officials, including Harrel, picked up where she left off.

The pantry is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. in 325 SMSU. Students willing to volunteer for the pantry are encouraged to email Harrel at [email protected] ?