Diana Ramirez/ Courier Marisa De La Torre, coordinator of the Lancer Pantry, sets up before students arrive at Knox Presbyterian Church in Pasadena, CA on Thursday, October 1, 2020. The Lancer Pantry has moved its location to this church for the Fall 2020.
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In response to campus food insecurity during Covid-19, the Lancer Pantry has migrated directly across the street from PCC to Knox Church, to continue offering food to students and community residents in need two days a week from 9 a.m.-11 a.m. for the fall semester.

In 2015, students formed an official food recovery network club, in which they reached out to the PCC administration, to help make the Lancer Pantry progress to where it is today. The organization had its grand opening in the fall of 2017 and had been successfully operating until this year’s campus wide closure due to Covid-19.

Once the organizers at the Lancer Pantry realized they wouldn’t be allowed to reopen on campus for safety and health reasons, they knew they would have to create an alternative stable source of food for students in need.

“I ended up acting as a conduit between the Knox Church community and PCC,” Said Joshua Miller, PCC Lancer Pantry procurement specialist. “I manage Knox Church at night, and seeing that it’s not being utilized, I felt like it was the perfect opportunity and perfect partnership to host the pantry, so we made it happen.”

Miller and his colleagues are hoping the Lancer Pantry at Knox Church will transfer over to the spring, and continue until students and faculty are able to get back on campus, once concerns about Covid-19 subside.

To accommodate for these times, the Lancer Pantry at Knox Church is taking the proper safety precautions in regard to Covid-19. Hand sanitizer, gloves, sanitation wipes, and social distancing stickers in the line help to keep volunteers and visitors of the pantry comfortable and safe.

“To keep things safe right now it’s a very small team, today we have two PCC workers here and a couple of Knox church members who are volunteering to help pack and distribute food,” Lancer Pantry Lead Coordinator, Marisa De La Torre said.

Jessica Lee, a current PCC student from Arcadia, ran into some financial issues and appreciates the entire Lancer Pantry team for coming out to serve people who need help, now more than ever. Jessica thinks she will be using the new location very often.

“This is a great location and I’m very happy because this is very close to the campus too, instead of it suddenly being all the way in Altadena, which might not be convenient for everybody,” Lee said.

Miller explains that the new Lancer Pantry at Knox Church is not only conveniently located, but also more discreet. The off-campus location takes away from a lot of the personal stigma of using a pantry because it’s not centered on campus where students with certain perceptions see others using the pantry.

“I wanted to provide a more discreet space that’s peaceful, there’s a courtyard, a picnic bench, and extra tables where people could come and have access to food, as they are entitled to,” Miller said.

Now the Lancer Pantry is receiving their food supply from the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank and Panera Bread, which gives them donations every Wednesday and Thursday. They also work with Trader Joes, Friends Indeed and Union Station.

The Lancer Pantry had to downsize a little, but this is all temporary until they could get back on campus. Food supply is limited as far as produce and frozen meats, but overall the same typical food items that were in the pantry pre-Covid will still be provided.

“And there’s good stuff. All the stuff that people are spending a lot of money on get donated to the pantry,” Miller said.

The donations that go to the Lancer Pantry are robust, with a lot of dry goods like canned items and boxed dinners, as well as soups, rice and beans. There is a lot of food, it’s just a different selection of foods than before.

The food is distributed in bags, to make it easier for people to come and pick up. If someone is driving through, the volunteers at the Lancer Pantry will open up their trunk and place the bag there. Most of the variety of bags contain the same selection of food, so every person receives an equal amount.

“I’m hoping there could be more grab and go items, I don’t think people necessarily have access to kitchens, I think that’s an assumption, so I want to provide things you could easily just microwave or open up, but also nutritious,” Miller said.

To keep students updated the Lancer Pantry uses Instagram, Facebook and email.

“The Lancer Pantry is really about making sure people aren’t afraid to come, and I’m sure there’s a relationship that people may have with the pantry, where there’s shame involved,”Miller said. “And it’s my goal to break down those assumptions and get people the resources they need.”

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