University unveils name for student food pantry

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Coordinators with the campus food pantry initiative officially revealed the name of the pantry Thursday afternoon in an open forum held in the Student Union courtyard. The new Kansas State food pantry is officially known as the Cats’ Cupboard.

Sarah Barrett, Clery Act federal compliance coordinator, and Erin Bishop, K-State food pantry coordinator, presented the history and need for the pantry to the crowd.

Barrett was an author on a spring 2014 survey that found “students’ needs continuously outpaced the resources they had, and that caused a high level of stress for them.” Barrett said that according to the results, students responded to this financial instability on a continuum.

“On one end of the continuum, our students might sell books back, or they might choose to not buy the book,” Barrett said. “Or they may drop a class, if necessary.”

In the middle, students took to more severe measures.

“Our students were indicating that they were selling [blood] plasma,” Barrett said. “They’d be willing to get a payday loan, and some indicated that they had.”

In more drastic cases, Barrett said students were willing to take part in illegal behavior, rely on unhealthy relationships or even skip meals entirely.

“This wasn’t information in a national survey. This wasn’t Manhattan in New York. This was Manhattan, Kansas, on our campus. These were our students — our community,” Barrett said.

Pat Bosco, vice president of student life and dean of students, said the university had no choice but to respond to students’ needs.

“When you see the stats … that’s enough for us to respond in an intentional way to make sure every member of the university family has a chance to be successful,” Bosco said. “That’s what equity is about.

“It is a specific, intentional way for us to define family at our school,” Bosco continued. “There are students who are hungry, and it obviously affects their ability to study, go to class, to be healthy. When you think about what this university stands for, the food pantry is more than a symbol — it’s a basic student life service that I’m very proud we’re celebrating. It’s the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people.”

Olivia Baalman, senior in computer science and student body vice president, said the campus climate is conducive to charitable initiatives such as the food pantry.

“I think that at K-State, we can do a really good job of destigmatizing things like tutoring,” Baalman said. “It’s a supplement of increasing our success, and I think it’s one thing that we need to focus on for the food pantry.”

In her capacity as coordinator, Bishop will work as a full-time employee for Cats’ Cupboard and will oversee volunteers, stock the shelves and fundraise for the pantry, among other duties.

“The success that I envision is that we have fully stocked shelves, we have a thriving volunteer network, we have a campus that does not have a stigma when it comes to utilizing our service,” Bishop said. “We all need food, so anyone that is hungry can come in and get something, whether it’s just for breakfast or something to tide them over for the week.”

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I’m Rafael Garcia, co-editor-in-chief at the Collegian. I’m a junior in journalism, campus visit coordinator for the JMC Ambassadors, and the vice president of social events and communication for the Edgerley-Franklin Urban Leaders. I come from Emporia, Kansas, home of the Twinkie, world’s best tasting tap water and journalist William Allen White. I’m passionate about journalism because I love people and their stories, and I want to find and tell those stories here on campus. In my spare time, I’m a Chihuahua wrangler, doughnut enthusiast, Netflix watcher and racquetball player. Contact me at [email protected]