Last month, millions of American poured into grocery stores across the nation buying just about anything they could find. Shelves remained empty for weeks, leaving those who did not have the ability — physically or financially — to buy food and other necessary supplies.
College students often struggle financially during a normal semester without an ongoing pandemic making things even more difficult. These students often work on-campus jobs or fill positions at local retailers. But what happens when the students’ workplace is shut down at the order of the state government? If they cannot work, they cannot be paid and cannot buy food.
At Shippensburg University, there is a resource for students that offers necessary items tucked away in the Cora I. Grove Spiritual Center: A food pantry.
The United Campus Ministry (UCM) and Catholic Campus Ministry (CCM) collaborate to run the pantry. UCM Rev. Jan Bye began five years ago to help struggling students make ends meet.
The pantry offers a “take what you need” system that is open to all students, according to Nichole Schneider, associate director of Catholic Campus ministry.
While students may not have physical access to most resources on campus during its closure, Bye wanted to ensure students who were still in the community had access to food.
Bye, who lives in Shippensburg, said she is more than willing to come to campus to open the pantry for any student who is in need.
After contacting Bye to set up a time, any student with an SU ID card can gain access to the pantry. The volunteers at the pantry do not record names, so those who use the pantry will remain anonymous. Once students gather the foods they want, they only need to record what items they took, for inventory purposes.
Bye said the spiritual center is located on the outskirts of campus, which helps those who may be anxious or embarrassed to use the resource and access it discreetly.
During a normal semester, the food pantry is accessible to students almost daily, Schneider said. There are students who come repeatedly, not necessarily consistently, according to Bye.
Despite this, the food pantry will continue to be available for students both on and off campus.
Bye expressed her concerns for those living off campus. Students may not be able to work due to layoffs and closures related to the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus. She also said some students may not be able to go home for a variety of reasons, including risking exposure to a high-risk family member.
“I want them to know that they can come,” Bye said. “Any student who is in need can give me a call.”
While the pantry does not offer fresh foods, it focuses on foods that are easily prepared in residence halls or apartment kitchens with limited resources, according to Schneider.
The pantry is accepting donations. In-demand items include cleaning supplies, toiletries, non-perishable microwavable foods, cereal, pasta and canned fruits and vegetables.
Students interested in accessing the pantry should contact Bye at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (717) 372-7955. For those interested in supporting the pantry by donating items or funds, contact Bye.