To combat a widespread issue faced by students across the globe, the Shatford Library has collaborated with the Lancer Pantry to orchestrate an event that helps alleviate student hunger on campus.
The donation-based event, referred to as “Food 4 Fines,” is hosted every Spring semester at the campus library. Students with overdue library fines can pay off their fines by donating food items, according to Lauren Bauer, a staff librarian who conducted the event.
“Students can pay off those fines instead of giving us cash,” Bauer said. “Every item they bring, they get $2 for the fines waived.”
The items, Bauer said, are collected at the circulation desk and then donated to the campus pantry. She said that in total 39 items were donated and $66 were waived in fines.
If students do not pay their fines, they cannot register for classes, withdraw from their classes, and graduate or receive their college transcripts, she said.
“Students aren’t able to graduate if they still have their book checked out still,” she said. “Having something checked out past its due date will keep students from being able to register for class, being able to withdraw from classes and being able to graduate and get transcripts.”
“Food 4 Thought”
According to an April 2018 report from Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab, “36 percent of university students and 42 percent of community college students were food insecure in the last 30 days.”
At Pasadena City College, the pantry serves up to 100 students a day, according to Lisa Nelson, an outreach coordinator for the school’s pantry. On average, “800 pounds of food are served every day” and food supplies are restocked every morning, Nelson said.
“We receive around 100 students a day,” Nelson said. “We allow students to come to the Lancer Pantry twice a week to shop.”
Commenting about how donation-based events on campus can benefit students and the campus pantry, Nelson said that it’s another way for them to get their food supplies stocked.
“Some of our students are poor or homeless, and it’s a struggle for them,” Nelson said. “If [students] bring in a can, food or something to eat, that would wipe out their fines. And it’s a way for us to get stocked for our shelves.”
Events like these, often hosted every semester, serve a vital role in giving back to the student community. Nelson said the food drives and toiletry drives hosted by the Associated Students board were really helpful in receiving more supplies.
“There were a lot of groups on campus that held food drives or toiletry drives,” Nelson said. “[VP for Sustainability Tara Agahi] did the food drive and we received a lot of food. It was wonderful.”
The Lancer Pantry, which was established in 2015, receives food from the L.A Regional Food Bank and donations from faculty members and students. Nelson said that the pantry serves students by offering them supplementary food and other products, depending on what items they receive.
“We’re here primarily to give students supplementary food,” Nelson said. “Because some of our students are struggling financially to buy [sanitary products]—those things are reasonably expensive—if we can help provide [sanitary products], students can maybe buy food that [the Lancer Pantry] can’t supply.”
Serving students can be challenging due to the constrained space, according to Nelson. She said that the pantry “was very small” and expressed that restocking and storing “is difficult with a smaller space.”
“We would love to be able to give students everything,” Nelson said. “But we don’t have the capacity yet.”
She also said that storing more items would allow the pantry to reconfigure the room’s space, allowing students to be served more quickly.
“Right now, we can only allow two students to shop at a time,” Nelson said. “If we can utilize this whole room, we might be able to serve four or five students at once.”
The line for the pantry can quickly turn long, Nelson said, and deter students from waiting because of other responsibilities they have.
“Students come and see the line [for the Lancer Pantry], and they’re like, ‘I can’t wait [because] I have class to attend’ or ‘I have to go to work,’” Nelson said. “If we can serve students more quickly, it would be an easier experience for them.”