By Gabrielle Fellows
Youngstown State University’s Student Government Association is launching a food pantry for students in need beginning on April 20 and running from 3 to 5 p.m.
The idea for a student food pantry came after survey results came in from the Student Union. Every person who took the survey said that either the survey taker or someone they knew had problems acquiring food.
The food pantry will be in Kilcawley Center in the hallway behind Wendy’s. Gabriella Gessler, the vice president of SGA, said that the location was decided based on accessibility and convenience, among other things.
“The food pantry will be located in Kilcawley Center so that the access would be very centralized for students,” Gessler said. “However, the region within the building is very secluded to provide an additional component of anonymity.”
Gessler also said that SGA has received support from the YSU bookstore in the form of plastic bags for bagging the food and aiding in keeping the food pantry’s services discreet.
“Our understanding is that many students on this campus would not see that bag as anything unique, alleviating any self consciousness that may have resulted from the carrying of a specifically marked … bag,” Gessler said.
SGA partnered with YSU’s Association of Professional and Administrative Staff, Chartwells food services and many others to make the food pantry a manageable service.
Student Government also met with nutritionists at YSU and interns at the Andrews Recreation and Wellness Center to make sure the food that was going out to students was nutritionally balanced and wholesome.
Ashley Orr, president of SGA, said that the organization wants to continue to offer the food pantry for students in the future but is still undecided on when the dates and times will be.
“We hope to have a fall launch of the food pantry with more partnerships and maybe some Youngstown media coverage within the first few weeks of the [new] semester,” Orr said.
The pantry is currently only offered to YSU students. Those who wish to take food from the pantry are required to bring their YSU ID. In the future, SGA is looking to purchase a card swipe to make this process easier for everyone involved.
Students who needed food from the pantry would swipe their ID so that the card swipe could grab their YSU ID number, the date and the time that the card was swiped.
That information would be shared with Karla Krodel, the director of Metro Credit, and from there, shared to YSU’s credit-based outreach program, who would then find the amount of unique students the pantry is assisting per month.
Since the food pantry is considered a short-term solution to a larger problem with acquiring food, students who are frequent visitors to the pantry may be contacted by SGA and informed about different community and government aid programs or assistance.
As for the remainder of the current semester, the food pantry will be held on Wednesdays from 3 to 5 p.m. and Fridays from noon to 2 p.m.
Next semester’s food pantry hours will be determined based on the availability of the space the pantry is housed in and the schedule of those manning it.