WSU Food Pantry Receives Donation to Help Feed Students in Need
OGDEN, Utah – The Weber Cares Program, which provides free food and resources to students in need, recently received a $3,225 donation from Weber Dining to aid in its efforts to combat food insecurity at Weber State University.
Supported by the Center for Community Engaged Learning (CCEL), Weber Cares allows students to concentrate on their studies instead of worrying about where their next meal is coming from. The program uses a three-pronged approach: the Weber Cares Food & Resource Pantry, which offers healthy food at no cost in Shepherd Union Room 402; a voucher program, which provides emergency $10 food vouchers redeemable at any Weber Dining campus location; and the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), which provides state food assistance.
The Weber Cares Program has been in operation since 2011. During the 2018-19 school year, the pantry helped more than 600 students.
“The Weber Cares pantry helps students who are on the verge of giving up due to not having food,” said Giovanni Frias, Weber Cares pantry specialist. “The pantry provides the food they need to finish the semester. The pantry is always here for the Weber State community, and we want to help those who need it most. It’s a place where Wildcats help other Wildcats.”
Weber Dining, known nationally as Sodexo, holds an annual fundraiser to support the pantry, where it asks diners to contribute extra money when they purchase a meal. This year, participants contributed $2,225. Weber Dining donated an additional $1,000 they received in grant money from the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation On-Campus Pantry Program.
Weber Dining also contributes to the pantry by collecting extra food from its kitchens each day. The food is packaged and taken to the pantry with help from the Food Recovery Network, a student-driven volunteer program that aims to address food insecurity and reduce food waste on campus. After fully stocking the pantry, student volunteers deliver the remaining food donations to Lantern House, a local community shelter. On average, Weber Dining donates over 3,500 pounds of food every semester.
The Weber Cares pantry relies primarily on food and monetary donations, such as those from Weber Dining, to continue operating. In addition, volunteers are needed to run the pantry and serve students. The pantry is open Monday to Friday from 12:30 to 3:30 p.m. in Shepherd Union Room 402.
Recent pantry efforts include adding a refrigerator for fresh food options and offering cooking courses to help students understand the importance of healthy eating and budgeting. In addition, the pantry created a full-time AmeriCorps VISTA position, which focuses on reducing food insecurity and alleviating poverty. Since 2014, the pantry has served 1,190 visitors and distributed 23,562 pounds of food, a number that has increased significantly each year.
“In the future, we hope to use produce from the campus community garden, recover food from campus events for grab-and-go meals and provide recipes and kits for students to learn how to cook,” said Teresa Martinez, CCEL program coordinator. “In addition, we are looking at ways to improve the pantry and what it offers, which will include new shelves, clothing racks and educational items.”
For more information about the pantry, visit weber.edu/ccel/weber-cares
For photos, visit the following link.
Visit weber.edu/wsutoday for more news about Weber State University.