Food pantry offers helping hand to students

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Food pantry offers helping hand to students

Courtesy of University Communications

Courtesy of University Communications

Courtesy of University Communications

Sasha Minjarez, Contributor

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UTEP welcomes students in need to stop by for non-perishable foods free of charge.  

The university’s foopantrywhich assists an abundance of studentsoriginated in a humble closet in UTEP’s student union in 2014. At the time, it was one of the first fully staffed collegefood pantries in that nation.  

Wanting to reach even more studentsUTEP officials began to look for a different location. 

“I tended to call it a bit of a Harry Potter closet,” Associate Vice President and Dean of Students Catie McCorry-Andalis said. “It had a full door and everything, but then it had a really dramatic slope so, because of that, you just couldn’t put fullsized shelves in there.”  

Since late October 2018, the pantry has been relocated to Memorial Gym, where it has flourished into a fully stocked and spacious setting to better support and serve the needs of the students.  

The Memorial Gym has made a perfect location since it is more accessible to the residence halland is next to a parking lot that lets students conveniently take provisions to their vehicles, according to McCorry-Andalis.  

Food insecurity in university students has become a growing concern 

In essence, it means that someone doesn’t have, not just healthy options to eat, but regular food supply … They don’t know where their next meal is going to come from, McCorry-Andalis said. “We wanted our students who staff the pantry to have a knowledge base to demystify the whole sense of food insecurity and be able to help students with additional needs they have.”  

Graduate assistants help oversee the pantry along with a team of students and volunteers who keep it running 

The pantry is able to operate through generous contributions made by the Albertsons Foundation, local partnerships, and donations collected at student drives. Their efforts have made it so that students can visit the pantry and select from a menu of items that cater to their dietary needs, much like taking a trip to the grocery store. Personal hygiene products are also available. 

The community’s collective effort has made it so that hundreds of students are able to receive support from their university 

“From about late October to early May, we had roughly 200 unique students who went to the food pantry,” McCorry-Andalis said. 

Entering the full academic term, officials at the pantry anticipate and hope for even more students to access the pantry.  

The pantry may continue to expand as it has since its establishment, according to McCorry-AndalisThere will be aemphasis on marketing and outreach along with the exploration of possibly introducing non-perishable itemsgrant-based aid and surveys to understand how to further serve the needs of UTEP students 

“We don’t want anyone to have to struggle to find food, but we also know it’s a very real need and were trying to tell our community that its nothing to be ashamed of, McCorry-Andalis said.  

Access to the food pantry can be obtained by enrolled students with the use of their Miner Gold Card. Fall 2019 semester hours of operation are as follows:  

Mondays: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Tuesdays: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. 

Wednesdays: 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. 

Thursdays: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. and 12:30 p.m.to 5 p.m. 

Fridays: 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. 

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