More inventory and larger space at Cats’ Cupboard’s upcoming facility

Cats Cupboard is currently located in Room 009 Fairchild Hall and will be relocated to 1021 Denison Ave. in Manhattan. This new location will provide more space for food storage including walk-in freezers and refrigerators. (Render photos courtesy of Greg Lohrentz)

Around 40% of K-State students struggle with food insecurity, according to the 2022 American College Health Association’s National College Health Assessment III, 

The KSU Foundation announced via a news release that Cats’ Cupboard, a no-cost food pantry for K-State affiliates, will open a new and updated facility in the 2023-24 school year. 

“I hope that this new location not only provides confidence and security for every individual at Kansas State, but that food is always going to be accessible,” Shelly Williams, director of Cats’ Cupboard, said. “That empowers them to be their best selves and pursue their dreams.”

The new Cats’ Cupboard will be located at 1021 Denison Ave. in place of the former Campus Ecumenical Center. 

Greg Lohrentz, chief operating financial officer at the KSU Foundation, said the new facility will bring huge changes to Cats’ Cupboard, which has been located in Fairchild 009 since its opening in 2017.

“Right now it’s just a big, open concrete floor,” Lohrentz said. “The current space is 800 square feet and it’s expanding to 8,000 square feet. Part of that is to be able to have a lot more storage for dry goods. There will be full walk-in freezers and refrigerators.”

Lohrentz said these advancements mean Cats’ Cupboard staff will provide more items for its guests.

“The next focus is how they can go out and source a lot more products,” Lohrentz said. “The bigger the cupboard, the bigger the shelf.”

Williams said the new facility will enhance guests’ experience. 

“Our goal is to incorporate a fully automated guest check-in system where a guest can come in and walk right up to an iPad station, enter their information, complete the survey, grab a cart or basket and do their shopping,” Williams said. “There’s going to be a space where they can take their products, put them on a counter and pack them into bags or boxes.”

Williams said this location will be more accessible to students.

“There will be a parking lot so that students don’t have to park several miles off-campus and carry their items,” Williams said. “It’ll be much easier.”

Williams said there will also be a checkout system, which hasn’t been a part of the process at Cats’ Cupboard’s current location.

“Currently we do not have any kind of checkout system, but with our inventory upgrade we’re seeing a strong need to check items out, not to track what people are taking, but so we can have a better inventory and a better ordering process,” Williams said. 

Susan Berhow, vice president of marketing and communications at the KSU Foundation, said the new building will open very soon.

“This project isn’t going to be a particularly slow one,” Berhow said. “By August, this should be complete.” 

According to the KSU Foundation’s news release, “The facility project … was made possible by a gift from David and Tracy Lockton of Naples, Florida. In addition to their gift to Cats’ Cupboard, the Locktons have provided support for food pantries in the Kansas City area.” 

Williams said the bigger facility means a need for more help from the K-State community.

“With this new location, we’re going to need passionate, committed volunteers,” Williams said. “We’re going to need funding to supplement the donations we receive with purchased goods. It’s an opportunity to get involved and give back to those who are less fortunate than you.”

To volunteer for Cats’ Cupboard, fill out the application on the Get Involved page on the Cats’ Cupboard website. 

“If you don’t hear back, call or drop by,” Williams said. “We’re most interested in those that are most passionate.”