PUEBLO – In February, Pueblo Community College celebrated the grand opening of a new initiative aimed at enabling its students to avoid experiencing food insecurity. The Panther Student Pantry on the PCC’s Pueblo campus began opening twice weekly offering non-perishable food and toiletry/personal hygiene products free to PCC students.
The Pantry is open from1 to 5 p.m. on Tuesdays and Wednesdays during which time it allows students to pick out six food items and one personal hygiene product each week. The Pantry is located in a large, walk-in storage closet in the Pueblo Campus Learning Center. It is being operated by students while being coordinated/funded by the college’s Associated Student Government (ASG). As such, the initiative is essentially a “students helping students” project.
PCC is partnering with the Care and Share Food Bank for Southern Colorado to maintain a steady stock of non-perishable food and to ensure that ASG follows current standards for food pantry services, including ServSafe training.
The initiative evolved partly from a survey of PCC students that determined a real need for such a free service. In the survey:
- 73% reported having experienced food insecurity within the past six months.
- 60% experienced food insecurity five or more times in the past six months.
- 100% agreed that a significant number of PCC students are currently experiencing food insecurity.
- 92% said they would feel comfortable using a campus food pantry if they experienced food insecurity.
Another factor was the Thanksgiving food basket drive that ASG conducted in November. It gave out 300 turkeys and pies, 200 of which were in full Thanksgiving baskets. All 200 baskets were given out in three hours on the first day of distribution, and the remaining food items were gone in four hours on the second day.
A third factor was a college-wide forum that was held in November. All of the students and staff who attended the forum were supportive of the concept.
Research of other Colorado Community College System institutions found that four other CCCS colleges have long-established student food pantries. Of those, the Pikes Peak Community College site was visited and the Community College of Denver was consulted.
PCC initially stocked the Pantry through donations from students, faculty and staff along with an ASG purchase from Care and Share. On its “soft opening” first day, 33 PCC students utilized the Pantry. Three sites on campus have been designated as regular drop-off locations for donations, and there are two drop boxes for monetary donations.
Care and Share is the sole food bank in a 31-county, 52,000-square-mile region of Southern Colorado feeding families since 1974. Its mission is “to bridge the gap between hunger and abundance,” and it serves as the hub for food distribution to more than 340 partner agencies.
Care and Share also is a member of Feeding America, the nation’s largest nonprofit organization committed to hunger relief. In 2013, Care and Share distributed more than 18.6 million pounds of food. More information on the Care and Share program is available at www.careandshare.org.
TO MAKE A DONATION TO THE PUEBLO COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENT PANTRY
TO SIGN YOUR BUSINESS OR ORGANIZATION UP TO SUPPORT THE PCC PANTRY
Email to Martha Simmons – Martha.firstname.lastname@example.org
PUEBLO COMMUNITY COLLEGE STUDENT PANTRY MEDIA CLIPS
PCC ASG MEMBERS STAGE LIVE “ELVES ON A SHELF” TO BENEFIT PCC STUDENT PANTRY
In an effort to add to the holiday cheer about the PCC Campus in Pueblo, members of the PCC Associated Student Government donned Elf costumes and were hired by some of the PCC administration, faculty and staff to “Elf”others during the holiday season. The fee for the “Elfing” was $10/visit and all funds raised were donated to the PCC Student Pantry.
As you can see from the photos below; a good time was had by one and ALL!
PCC Elves (Austin Beebe and Andrew Lattie) surprise President Patty Erjavec at her monthly Cabinet Meeting.