The number of students using the Cats’ Cupboard food pantry continues to increase, five months after its opening.
“When we opened, five [people] would have been a really big day, and now 20 is nothing,” Erin Bishop, Cat’s Cupboard coordinator, said. “The last time I crunched the numbers, which would have been a week ago, maybe, 250 unique students have used the pantry, or more, with well over probably 650 visits.”
According to the 2015 Campus Climate Project Final Report, 39.4 percent of K-State students have difficulty affording food. It was for this reason the campus food pantry Cats’ Cupboard opened its doors in Fairchild Hall five months ago.
“We serve any student on campus that’s looking for some food,” Bishop said. “Anywhere from getting groceries for the whole week to coming in and getting some breakfast.”
All items at the pantry are donations supplied by the community.
“We depend highly on donation drives in the community,” Bishop said.
Most donations come from sources such as food drives organized by fraternities and campus clubs, as well as individual donations from people who just want to give.
The most highly demanded items include rice, pasta, pasta sauce, jelly, pancake mix and microwavable to-go meals. The pantry also supplies necessary items such as toilet paper, deodorant, feminine hygiene pads, regular sized tampons, dish soap and laundry detergent.
Since Cats’ Cupboard opened in late 2017, the number of students visiting the food pantry has only grown.
Jaden Castinado, freshman in food science, said he enjoys the opportunity Cats’ Cupboard gives him to get involved with volunteering on campus.
“I’ve always found myself in the past working with food related service,” Castinado said. “I worked with Meals on Wheels or I’ve gone to food pantries or soup kitchens.”
Rachel Van Gilder, graduate student in public health, is the newest member of the Cats’ Cupboard team. She said she decided to work for Cats’ Cupboard after hearing about it in a department email.
“The whole educational and food aspect is something I’m really interested in because I’m emphasizing in nutrition,” Van Gilder said.
She said she is also excited about the potential to go out and educate people about the services Cats’ Cupboard provides for the K-State community.
In the long term, Bishop said she would like to raise awareness of Cats’ Cupboard while decreasing the stigma associated with seeking help.
“Our goals are to serve students in need as well as decrease stigma,” Bishop said. “There’s a lot of stigma associated with seeking help, and we don’t want that. We want this to be open for everybody.”
In the end, Cats’ Cupboard’s main goal is providing students the support needed to succeed at K-State.
“We want to help people graduate because school is really expensive, living in Manhattan is really expensive, books are expensive, being an adult is expensive, and so we want to provide that support,” Bishop said.
For more information on Cats’ Cupboard, visit k-state.edu/cats-cupboard.