The Food Pantry at Sam Houston State University knows what it means to live by the university’s motto, “The measure of a life is its service.”
In past semesters, the Food Pantry served students on campus who experienced food insecurity by hosting distribution events that provided free meal kits. As the pandemic has progressed, food donations from students, faculty members and community businesses have kept the pantry well stocked.
Social media coordinator for the SHSU Food Pantry Jesus Martinez said this semester the distribution events have been split into two separate days to minimize traffic flow and give students the flexibility to attend.
“We’ve actually had more people sign up, especially our last distribution,” Martinez said. “I believe we had 54 new people just that one day.”
According to Martinez, this past February was the grand opening of the pantry’s new location near the Kat Post in its own separate building. Prior to that, the pantry was operating out of a maintenance closet in Academic Building III.
“I think the major improvement we’ve had were the refrigerators,” Martinez said. “We have three refrigerators now, and back in the closet we only had one functioning refrigerator. We also have way more shelf space and room in the back as well. And we have our own little office to work in as well.”
Martinez encourages all students to visit the Food Pantry and is working to end the stigma that it is only for those in significant need.
“We want students to think of this as their kitchen on campus and expansion to dining halls and the LSC,” Martinez said.
Since its inception in 2014, the Food Pantry has worked tirelessly to bring awareness to the organization and maintain a presence on campus to serve as a vital resource for new and returning students each year.
Advisor for the Food Pantry Kathleen Gilbert said the new location is beneficial because it gives more space to hold additional products, meaning they can serve more students.
“When UPD did a peanut butter drive, they showed up with seven truck beds completely full of peanut butter,” Gilbert said. “I could only take on three trucks because that was my max capacity in that little closet. Whereas now I could take on all seven.”
Gilbert said the pantry is working on collaborating with other organizations to provide more interaction and diversity for the SHSU student body.
“Moving forward, we are working with the Wesley Foundation next door with our community garden,” Gilbert said. “We are wanting to expand that to be able to do more of a farm-to-table experience for students.”
Gilbert also said the pantry is partnering with the Office of International Programs to collaborate on a fun project.
“They are creating international meal kits,” Gilbert said. “They sponsored, they created the bags and then we’re able to distribute them to bring a cultural awareness aspect to the food pantry, as well as being able to supply different types of foods to our students, because we’re a very diverse student body.”
While times are hard and the economy continues to suffer due to the pandemic, the Food Pantry is a vital resource on campus for students whenever they need it. If students are not able to attend regularly scheduled distribution events, they can call the pantry to request an emergency food pack.