Temple University’s Cherry Pantry celebrated its one-year anniversary on Tuesday.
The pantry opened on Feb. 19, 2018 to offer free, non-perishable food to students in need. On Tuesday, volunteers, members of the university’s administration and students who use the pantry celebrated its anniversary.
At the celebration, the pantry also received a large delivery of donated products like oatmeal and canned foods from Temple parent Danette Reid, who collected the food through Facebook.
Higher education professor Sara Goldrick-Rab helped to open the Cherry Pantry in Spring 2018. As a campus food insecurity researcher, Goldrick-Rab said she is looking forward to creating new ways the university can support students who struggle to fund their meals.
“I’m very glad that the Temple community is talking about food insecurity, thanks in large part to the Cherry Pantry,” she wrote in an email to The Temple News. “Now I hope we will move forward with connecting students to more substantial supports, including public benefits like [the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program], and doing what we can to control the price of food on campus.”
Khadijah Teel, a junior biology major who attended the event, began using Cherry Pantry this semester. Her family is struggling financially, she said, and the pantry has given her consistent access to food.
“Right now we don’t have groceries in my house, so when I can come here and get a meal, it’s really great,” said Teel, who commutes. “Especially for days on campus when I don’t have money to eat I can get food and actually be able to eat.”
Sophomore psychology major Breanna Rife, who attended the event and uses the pantry weekly, said the Cherry Pantry is a comfortable way for her to receive the basic necessities she lacks as a low-income student.
“I’m poor, and I’m not afraid to accept help when I need it,” Rife added.
When the pantry first opened, about 30 students visited each week, The Temple News reported. Now, more than 160 students visit the pantry each week, said Michelle Martin, the director of Cherry Pantry. The pantry began providing hygiene products in September 2018.
TSG President Gadi Zimmerman made combating campus hunger a staple of IgniteTU’s platform. The administration hosted the first annual Campus Hunger Awareness week in November 2018 and works with Cherry Pantry to spread awareness.
“I definitely expect it to grow because so many students are food insecure on campus,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that so many people need to use it, but it’s great that it’s being used and helping to destigmatize the issue.”
Students can visit the pantry on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 1 to 5 p.m. and Thursdays from 4 to 8 p.m. It’s run entirely by volunteer staff and students, and stocks its shelves through donations from companies, organizations and individuals.
Sophomore applied mathematics major Catherine Serova volunteers at the Cherry Pantry during the first shift on Wednesdays. Her favorite part of volunteering, she said, is getting to know the students who frequent the pantry.
“A bunch of people line up in front of the door, so as soon as we open it, they rush in,” Serova said. “It’s really nice to see people’s faces light up, especially when we have new inventory.”
“When we replenish the peanut butter, especially, people get super excited,” she added.
The pantry has a current need for peanut butter, allergy-sensitive products, mixed veggies, rice, condiments, cereal, juice, pasta and cream of wheat, according to a white board in the pantry. People can donate in room 224A any time the pantry is open, or weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. in room 304 of the Student Center.