By Nami Nagaoka
The Youngstown State University food pantry is now in collaboration with the Career Closet, and has a new location in the Lariccia Lounge behind Jamba Juice in Kilcawley Center.
The food pantry is run by YSU’s Student Government Association.
Ernie Barkett, president of SGA, said the food pantry is now at an open and visible location.
Barkett said when the pantry first opened in its new location, SGA worried about confidentiality, but they have yet to face any issues.
“We thought it’s a good idea to open up a little bit now and go to a more public area. We are trying to encourage more students to use it,” he said.
SGA tracks the data of the pantry’s participation rate and visiting dates with a student sign in, but their names are kept private.
Barkett said SGA and Career Closet have been working closely for about a year and so far, it has been a good match.
He said the goal of the food pantry is to focus on residential students and students with limited accessibility to buy what they need.
“We are always accepting donations. We run on 100 percent of donations,” he said.
Nicole Kent-Strollo, director of student outreach and support, is in charge of assisting students with the Career Closet.
Kent-Strollo said the service had a recent name change last semester from Professional Tier Collection to Career Closet.
“Because you are here to get a degree, so eventually we want you to have a career, and how do you get there … so [Career Closet] was more fitting,” she said.
Kent-Strollo said she was happy to move the a new location in Kilcawley Center in March and to form a collaboration with SGA.
“It’s a perfect opportunity to have it all in one place,” she said.
The Career Closet has had many donations from community members and the YSU Foundation.
Kent-Strollo said the Career Closet is now focused on obtaining suits, dress pants, dress shoes and ties, as well as winter coats, new gloves and hats as winter approaches.
“It’s just one small part of all of the things that we hopefully are offering our students, and just to give them the best chance to succeed and become a YSU graduate,” she said.
Hadeal Yusuf, a senior nutrition major, has worked at the food pantry for three semesters.
Yusuf said the food pantry also provides hygiene products such as toothpaste, toothbrushes, shampoos and conditioners.
“[Students] have so much on their plate. [The food pantry] really wants to give what we can to relieve the stress because money is always the issue for students,” she said.
Yusuf said it was a good idea to move locations to a more high traffic area for its awareness.
“I’m sure some of these students don’t have cars to go buy stuff. If they have a pantry right here, then why not [use it],” she said.
SGA is planning to have an open house for the pantry in November to increase marketing and even to make some meals from the pantry items.