How to Build-Up a Little Community Pantry, a Memoir

A few months ago, my friend Pam responded to a study suggesting that 40% of our students are food insecure ( by suggesting that we start a Little Community Food Pantry. We launched our little pantry the same week in a small cabinet with a few things we brought from home and a few things we bought.

Our little pantry was utilized quickly and with gusto. We kept track of what most-used items were and we put a suggestion bag for anonymous feedback. These are our top 5 items:

1. Protein bars or granola bars (protein bars are the holy grail)

2. Ramen or other quick soups

3. Canned fish (tuna etc)

4. Fresh fruit (oranges and apples)

5. Other proteins, including shelf stable milks


Our suggestion box asked for more protein and quick things ✅. We also had many expressions of thanks.

Following our first successful week, we advertised to the community. Donations came in from faculty and staff and other students and use increased.

We had outgrown our little cupboard, so with the help of admin and staff, we secured a larger set of cabinets and moved down the hall.

One of my students who works for the AMS Food Bank helped me move into the  new pantry and she had some great advice, such as leaving the top shelf for duplicate items because the top shelf would be less accessible. Someone brought by menstrual supplies, which we now keep in one of the drawers. Another drawer is stocked with condiments and cutlery. This week we will be adding a microwave. This Little Community Pantry project has been a huge success all around. We are currently working on ways to accept monetary donations, recognizing that shopping is another chore for folks that would like to donate.

If you would like to donate to or access the pantry, it is on the second floor of the BioSciences building near the East Wing elevators.

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