Before it opened at 5 p.m. on Feb. 19, the Cherry Pantry, Temple’s first student food pantry, had already been utilized by students.
Some students came a “few hours before opening,” proving that it’s “serving its purpose,” said Sarah Levine, the pantry’s student manager and a senior neuroscience major. Levine was one of the main advocates to create the pantry for the past year and a half.
About three to five students have used the pantry each day since it’s been open, said Michelle Martin, an administrative manager in Student Affairs.
Cherry Pantry, which is on the second floor of the Student Center, aims to combat food insecurity at Temple, where one-third of students are food insecure, according to a study by higher education professor Sara Goldrick-Rab. Cherry Pantry is a joint effort among university officials, student organizations and Temple Student Government.
The pantry was opened under the Office of the Provost, and will be managed by Levine and a subcommittee of five administrators, Levine said.
Student Body President Tyrell Mann-Barnes and Levine said they want to use monetary donations to improve the pantry, and eventually purchase equipment to store perishable foods, like fruits and vegetables.
“Although this is a great start, I’d like to see some fresh produce,” Mann-Barnes said. “It’s important to give students access to food, but also important that their meals can be balanced.”
At the grand opening of the pantry, students were able to tour the pantry and donate non-perishable food items.
“It felt amazing,” Mann-Barnes said. “So many faculty members and administrators and students were willing to work together to make it happen.”
Goldrick-Rab and Levine led a discussion about food insecurity at a Combating Campus Hunger event that took place in tandem with the pantry’s opening at Rad-Dish Cafe in Ritter Hall.
Levine, who has experienced food insecurity, said she felt the opening festivities “went off without a hitch,” and said she hopes these discussions can happen informally year-round.
“The biggest help you can give to the Cherry Pantry is trying to change the culture surrounding food insecurity on campus,” she added. “Don’t be passé. Create these conversations that really get people thinking to make sure that we’re accountable for each other.”
Student organization Challah for Hunger, which bakes and sells the traditional Jewish bread every week, raised $14,000 for the pantry through an OwlCrowd campaign.
“That [fundraiser] really showed what a student is capable of doing, and how they can give back to their own community,” Levine said.
Challah for Hunger will continue to donate half of its proceeds to the pantry, and Rad-Dish Cafe has pledged to donate all its tips to the organization.
Any students can use the food pantry if they show their OWLcards. Proof of food insecurity is not needed to access the pantry. Food is distributed through a point system, and students have up to 16 points worth of food to take in one visit. Different food items vary in point value.
“Food insecurity affects students in more than just their stomachs,” Levine said. “They can’t focus in class, it limits their social interactions and it limits their self-perception of what they’re capable of.”
Cherry Pantry is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m. Students can donate non-perishable food items during this time, as well as on Mondays from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.