Associate Program Director of Student Support, Erika Thomison, and Executive Team Member Chair for Paw’s Pantry, Braxton Gray, spoke at the Nov. 11 meeting of the Undergraduate Student Government (USG) at IUPUI about the needs of Paw’s Pantry and ways in which students can help support them.
Paw’s Pantry is a food pantry on campus that is open to all students. It aims to help those with food insecurity meet their dietary needs.
Challenges that Paw’s Pantry is working on include sustainability issues, as well as overcoming high demand but limited inventory, requiring restocking on a daily basis, maintaining and relying on consistent volunteers each week and having to take on professional staff in the Office of Student Accessibility Services (OSAS).
Paw’s Pantry serves over 300 students per week. In order to accommodate this, they have transitioned to an appointment only system. However, since their system is not designed for an organization like a food pantry, they have had a few issues trying to schedule and reschedule students each week. One of their goals is to obtain a pantry software system for more efficient operations.
Currently, workers have to take their personal cars to places like Kroger to get groceries, which can be time-consuming. This is why they are also working towards obtaining a van or box truck for food transportation. If they were able to achieve this, they would have to rely less on others to get the groceries, as well as being able to do everything in less trips.
Additionally, being volunteer reliant is risky. If they do not have volunteers, or if lead volunteers are unable to work a shift, they might have to shift their hours or potentially close. Lead volunteers are those in charge of overseeing other volunteers and pantry operations during their shift. Having regular hours, and possibly expanding their hours, would allow them to accommodate more students and meet campus needs more effectively.
The other basic needs of the pantry include canned food items, non-perishable items and hygiene items, although other items are also welcome.
At the end of their presentation, Senators were able to ask questions, and brainstorm ways in which USG could start helping Paw’s Pantry meet the needs of students on campus. One of the suggestions was a bill for funding to purchase a van or box truck. Another was either working with a company, or proposing a project to students in computer science classes to make a functional software, although Paw’s Pantry is already looking at getting on software that is made for nonprofits and donation based organizations like food pantries.
For more information about Paw’s Pantry, ways to help or making an appointment, visit the Paw’s Pantry page on the student affairs website. To have further questions answered, students can email them.
Abigail Godsen (she/her) is a freshman majoring in Applied Information Science. She is a reporter for The Campus Citizen. When she isn’t writing, Abby likes to cook, do crossword puzzles and drink a lot of tea.