On-campus food pantry to open next week

The food pantry is accepting donations this week to prepare for its opening.

Students from Challah for Hunger prepares the traditional Jewish bread it sells on Thursday. The organization will donate half of the proceeds to the Cherry Pantry. | SYDNEY SCHAEFER / FILE PHOTO

An on-campus food pantry will open next week to address food insecurity. On Feb. 19, Cherry Pantry will have its grand opening, where students can get free, non-perishable food items.

The pantry will be in Student Center North. It will operate Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m.

Donations can be dropped off at the pantry on Tuesday from 9 a.m. to noon and Wednesday from noon to 2 p.m. Then, donations will be accepted during its regular hours.

Food insecurity is when a person lacks access to nutritious, affordable food. A report by higher education professor Sara Goldrick-Rab found that about one-third of Temple students experience food insecurity.

In response to Goldrick-Rab’s study, university officials, including Provost JoAnne Epps and Temple Student Government representatives, created the food pantry. Sarah Levine, a senior neuroscience major and the TSG seat on the task force, was one of the main students advocating for the food pantry’s creation. After advocating for the pantry for more than a year and a half, Levine is now the student manager of the pantry, who is responsible for training volunteers. She will remain on a subcommittee, along with five university administrators to maintain the pantry.

Students can visit the pantry once per week by showing their OWLcards. The food will be handed out using a point system, and students can take up to 16 points per visit, Vice President of Student Affairs Theresa Powell said. One side, which includes items like canned corn or green beans, equals one point. Single-meal items equal two points, which would be items like cans of Chef Boyardee or SpaghettiOs. Multi-meal items, which are items that can be used multiple times like rice and cereal, equal three points.

Students will not be questioned about their food security when they enter the food pantry.

The pantry will start by giving out canned and non-perishable food items like cereal, juice, pasta and canned fruits and vegetables. The pantry will also provide allergen-friendly items, like dried fruit and gluten-free pasta.

This will be the first food pantry on Main Campus and will join more than 560 pantries across college campuses in the United States.

“We’re developing everything as we go,” Powell said. “But what we want to make sure that we do is…have the pantry open so that it is available to as many students as possible.”

Levine said she has experienced food insecurity, like 35 percent of students at Temple who lack reliable access to affordable, nutritious food.

“I can tell you from firsthand experience [of food insecurity], having that over your head, being in class, you are not paying attention, you are not listening to what the professor is saying,” Levine said. “[You’re] trying to get your mind off of how hungry you are, instead of doing homework or studying.”

The student chapter of Challah for Hunger, which bakes and sells the traditional Jewish bread every Thursday, will donate half of its sales to the student food pantry.

The grand opening on Feb. 19 will coincide with a “Combating Campus Hunger” event hosted by Challah for Hunger and TSG, which will take place at the Rad Dish Co-op Cafe in Ritter Hall from 7 to 9 p.m. It will include free food and a panel discussion about food insecurity.

Challah for Hunger recently launched an OwlCrowd campaign to help fund the pantry. The campaign ends Feb. 18 and has already exceeded its $5,000 goal with $5,940, as of Monday. Challah for Hunger has since increased its goal to $7,000.

“We were getting a lot of donations early, and it just kept going and I was really happy to see that,” said Gadi Zimmerman, a junior financial planning major and president of Temple’s Challah for Hunger chapter, which advocates for students who experience food insecurity.

TSG has also worked with Challah for Hunger to spread awareness and “amplify” the voices of the students who are passionate about the food pantry and food insecurity.

“Now seeing that [the OwlCrowd campaign has] surpassed that goal, I am not only happy about it, but I’m really excited,” Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes said. “This proves that if we can fund a pantry, what other resources and initiatives for students could we also fund if we solicit the interests for OwlCrowd Fund? I think the…opportunities are limitless.”

CORRECTION: A previous version of this story ommitted information about Sarah Levine and mischaracterized her as only a student who experienced food insecurity. The story has been corrected to include Levine’s role in the creation of the food pantry and her current roles at the organization.

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