Cats’ Cupboard re-opens with new hours, extra safety precautions

Cats' Cupboard opened in 2017 and helps to combat food insecurity on the K-State campus. (Archive photo by Rowan Jones | The Collegian)

After serving the Kansas State community through online transactions for the summer, Cats’ Cupboard re-opened their doors to students and faculty on Monday.

With drop-in visits available again, Cats’ Cupboard implemented new safety procedures and hours of operation to follow K-State’s policies on social distancing and mask-wearing.

“We have a temp-check scanner at the door like the ones that are in operation at Lafene [Health Center], and we have those social distancing markers down,” Sarah Hoyt, Cats’ Cupboard operations lead, said.

Cats’ Cupboard’s now only uses the interior hallway door to 009 Fairchild as an entrance. The back door serves as an exit to allow for unidirectional traffic flow and social distancing. The only exception is given to those with mobility challenges who may need different entrances for accessibility.

Along with these new policies, Cats’ Cupboard changed their drop-in hours:

  • Monday from noon to 6 p.m.
  • Tuesday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Friday from 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.

The pantry is closed on Saturday and Sunday.

On a first visit, students seeking aid from Cats’ Cupboard must fill out a new intake form. The pantry’s website encourages students who plan on visiting to allow time for this process.

Only four visitors are allowed in the pantry at a time.

Hoyt joined Cats’ Cupboard in September 2019 to take on expanded fundraising efforts, student support and administrative duties. She said the transition to the online order system at the beginning of the COVID-19 regulations was no step back for Cats’ Cupboard.

“The key to getting us through those first few weeks was massive generosity from a close circle of friends, advisory board members and K-State professors,” Hoyt said.

Though an average of 70-90 orders were made weekly through the online order system, Cats’ Cupboard will only be taking in-person orders now that normal operations have resumed.

Hoyt said the constant demand on the food pantry during online operations put a strain on workers.

“We filled almost 1,600 online orders between March and last Thursday [Aug. 13],” Hoyt said. “That was incredibly labor-intensive, and we didn’t have our usual team of undergraduate employees and volunteers.”

With K-State’s current population, Hoyt said the organization would not be able to operate the online order system because of the labor and supplies required.

Cats’ Cupboard workers Maggie Malmberg, senior in biology, and Alexis Moser, senior in accounting, said their roles at the pantry changed due to COVID-19.

“All the extra day-to-day things we are doing to make sure students are safe is taking extra time and conscious awareness,” Malmberg said.

As a volunteer, Moser said her role grows with Cats’ Cupboard.

“The Cupboard has been rearranged to help facilitate the people walking through,” Moser said. “There are definitely more people aware of this benefit, and we have expanded to help the faculty.”

With more students, faculty and staff back on campus, Hoyt said she’s hoping to start collecting more food through donations.

“I hope, now that people are back on campus, we can do some creative food-raising, spend less at the grocery store and get back to the usual status quo,” Hoyt said.

My name is Sean Schaper, and I'm the news editor for the Collegian. I’m a junior in journalism with a secondary focus in film studies. I grew up right outside of Kansas City in Leawood, Kansas. As a first-generation K-Stater, I look forward to leaving behind accurate coverage for the current and future Wildcat community.