Fueling Thoughts: The UI Food Pantry Honors students work to increase food security for students

By: Eilidh Spery

Tucked away in a hallway of the Iowa Memorial Union is a small room with one door and one window, filled with hundreds of food items. Shelves line the wall, stocked with nonperishable food items, and a fridge/freezer holds items like fruit and bread. This is the Food Pantry, which opened last semester and provides food and necessities to staff, faculty and students who have limited budgets and cannot access enough food. The Food Pantry is considered a student organization, and is supported by the student government and donations from individuals and organizations like the Crisis Center and Table to Table. The goals of the organization revolve mainly around keeping the pantry accessible, safe, and full of diverse options. But they also branch out into unexpected areas, such as education about healthy foods and preparation. Sydney Hofferber, the Volunteer Coordinator and Pantry Manager, says that “We’re...really trying to figure out the best way to get education out there for people who have limited time as it is...that’s something we’re continually trying to grow.” The food pantry also has a focus on sustainability through the use of reusable bags, recycling, and salvaged food. There are currently seventeen volunteers working at the Food Pantry, most of whom are Honors students. Their jobs vary depending on what days they volunteer. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays, volunteers help clients with forms, shopping and weighing food. On Fridays, they collect donations, weighing and shelving these, or work outside of the pantry, handing out fliers or staffing the free produce cart when it is in operation. For volunteers, their work offers an opportunity to learn about food insecurity, to give back to the community around them and, as Hofferber says, “There’s a certain level of ownership...over this initiative on campus because you are there working in the pantry, keeping the doors open. There’s also a lot of room for promotion or advancement in the organization.” Though the volunteering time slots are currently full, the Food Pantry is open to volunteers in case of scheduling issues, and those who can assist with special events. There is also a need for donations of food or necessities. The Food Pantry provides an opportunity for Honors students to give back, and to gain a better understanding of the varying situations of the people around them. Those interested in volunteering can contact Sydney Hofferber, the Volunteer Coordinator and Pantry Manager, at sydney-hofferber@ uiowa.edu. Those interested in donating can contact Hofferber or studorg-foodpantry@uiowa.edu. The pantry is open for donations on Friday from 12-4, but please email the organization before bringing anything in. The Food Pantry is located in room 209 in the Iowa Memorial Union, and is open to clients on Mondays from 3:30 to 7:30, Wednesdays from 12:30 to 7:30, and Thursdays 5:30 Top: The Food Pantry has a wide variety of nonperishable goods and help students, faculty, and staff access the food they need. Photo by Eilidh Spery. Bottom: From left to right, the Food Pantry Executive Board Members are pictured- Sarah Ingwersen, Aparna Ajjarapu, Sydney Hofferber, and Ben Marks. Photo provided by Sydney Hofferber to 7:30.

    

Top: The Food Pantry has a wide variety of nonperishable goods and help students, faculty, and staff access the food they need. Photo by Eilidh Spery. Bottom: From left to right, the Food Pantry Executive Board Members are pictured- Sarah Ingwersen, Aparna Ajjarapu, Sydney Hofferber, and Ben Marks. Photo provided by Sydney Hofferber