by Lisa Carroll, ASLCC Sustainability Coordinator
Lane’s Community College’s Rainy Day Pantry is run by students, for students! Our intent is to provide students with supplemental food to help get through those ‘rainy days’ when money is tight and food is hard to come by. Sadly, those rainy days are increasing for college students at an alarming rate.
Last year, the University of Wisconsin surveyed 4,000 students at 10 community colleges across the country and found that over half of all community college students are struggling with food and/or housing insecurity, with one in five respondents indicating they had skipped meals and were hungry because they did not have the money to buy food.
Today’s college student is less likely to be a young adult who receives full financial support from home. Increasingly, Lane students are working full time to support themselves and their families while attempting to earn their degrees. Additionally, since college costs have risen while wages for the vast majority of workers have remained constant or decreased, even the “traditional” college students are coming from homes that struggle to put food on the table. All of these factors mean that empty cupboards and growling bellies are a way a life for far too many of our students, with negative effects on student success.
Rainy Day Pantry was established in 2013 by our student government to help address student hunger. We serve approximately 100 students a week in a friendly, supportive atmosphere. We also connect students to other resources on campus, such as the No Cash Clothing Stash and the Women’s Resource Center, and to local community resources as well. One beautiful thing emerging from this is a mutually supportive community where people feel supported and welcome.
It takes a lot of hard work to keep our pantry stocked, but we’re committed to the task. We work closely with Food for Lane County to secure donations of food from local businesses and community gardens, and we also rely on donations from students, staff, and community.
There are several ways to donate to our pantry. One way community members have helped out is to borrow one of our collection bins and take it to their place of work to have a food drive. If your place of business is interested in doing this, we could provide you with one or two of our bins if you like, and even arrange to pick everything up when you are done if possible. Alternatively, you’re welcome to drop off donations here at the college. Our pantry is located in Building 1, room 206– right across from the elevator.
We appreciate all donations of non-perishable foods, and we try to choose the healthiest options available. We can accept fresh produce, but sadly we are unable to accept home-canned or home-baked foods. All products have to be sealed, unopened, and in their original containers. What we go through the fastest, and thus have the most need for, are the following items:
- Proteins: Nut butters, beans, shelf-stable tofu, tuna/canned meats.
- Dry goods: Pasta, rice, dried potatoes, cereals.
- Fruits and Veggies– canned or dried.
- Meals in a can or box, like chili, stew, etc.
We also accept toiletries such as ‘hotel’ soaps and shampoos, deodorant, feminine hygiene products, toothbrushes/toothpaste, etc.
Thank you so much for your interest in our pantry! Please feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions, or if you’d like to borrow a collection bin or need us to stop by for a donation pick-up.