University of Utah Opens New Food Pantry for Students
The University of Utah has a new pantry for students who are experiencing food insecurity. It’s called the Feed U Pantry.
The facility opened in October and is the result of a partnership between the Utah Food Bank, the Center for Student Wellness and the Campus Store. Abbey Reyes manages the pantry and says all students need to qualify is a current student ID and to fill out a confidential survey for research purposes. Students can then grab a bag and start choosing groceries.
“They can shop around really and they have all the time they want or need to look at their options," she says. "If they have questions I’m more than happy to chat with them. I’ve done that with some students. There was a student who wasn’t sure what to do with oatmeal and we sat for a while looking up oatmeal recipes. So it’s very casual, it’s very friendly and welcoming.”
Katie Stiel is the program manager at the Center for Student Wellness. She says that last year she and her colleagues noticed a growing trend of university food pantries around the nation so they decided to conduct a Survey for the U’s students. Out of the 226 students who completed the survey 53 percent stated that they were experiencing some level of food insecurity. Stiel says the survey challenged her own assumptions of who may need help with food.
“We have this image in our head right? Like someone’s experiencing homelessness or is desolate, that kind of thing," she says. "And then to realize it’s a student who is texting or has a laptop and then we naturally assume “Oh if they can buy those things…” But we forget like, as an institution we demand those things. So you need to pay your phone bill well, let us help feed you.”
The pantry is open Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. and is located on the second floor of the Campus Store.