Written by: Andrew Garison
One of the challenges for students living off campus is making sure all food related needs are met. It can be hard to find the time to cook daily or to buy groceries without breaking the bank. Luckily, Off–Campus Life has come up with a solution to help students overcome this issue: The Pop-Up Pantry.
The Pop-Up Pantry is a new resource created by OCL to help students have easy access to foods and groceries, especially those who are facing issues with food security. It first opened at the beginning of the Spring semester and will be available to students every Monday from 12pm through 6pm.
“All students have access to the Pantry, and it comes at no cost to them,” said Isaac Mensah-Yeboah, an OCL pro-staff member.
Students were already trickling into the Pantry when it opened last Monday, January 27th, curious to see what was being offered. There was a wide variety of shelf–stable items for students to choose from. These products won’t spoil if you forget to stick them in the refrigerator. OCL stocked the shelves with pasta, beans, cereals, shelf-stable milk, and a collection of assorted canned goods. They even provided free reusable shopping bags to students to carry their groceries in. Whether you’re the pickiest of eaters or a collegiate connoisseur, a five-star chef or a microwave master, there is something for everyone in the Pantry.
“Since meal plan is out of the question for me,” said Cody West, a junior Healthcare Administration major, “a resource like this is very helpful.”
All who stopped by the Pantry had a positive experience. The food provided was well received, and the students appreciated the ease and accessibility of the Pantry. With all of the different obligations students have to fill in their day–to–day lives, worrying about food should not be on the list. While there might be resources in the community, it can be awkward for students to seek these out.
“It feels good knowing I can come to a place that I’m already comfortable with,” said West.
OCL is hoping to expand their stock in the future. They are planning to add fresh produce to their selection soon. OCL wants to give students the supplies they need, so everyone that attended was asked to complete a survey about their food purchasing habits and daily schedules. This feedback will help OCL better understand what kinds of goods and groceries students might need or would like to see provided in the future.
Be sure to stop by the Pantry on Mondays, 12pm to 6pm, and grab some groceries. OCL plans to continue the event through the semester. Be sure to check out OCL’s website for more information in the Pop-Up Pantry or any other off–campus needs: https://www.jmu.edu/ocl/.