By Elizabeth Hernandez and Sarah Madrigal

Students searching for solutions to food insecurity can now find relief at the Poly Pantry, which opened its doors in the Bronco Student Center (BSC) on April 29.

Angel Perez takes inventory of the dried goods in the Poly Pantry. (Sarah Madrigal | The Poly Post)

The pantry was established to combat food insecurity on campus, along with providing basic resources such as toiletries for students in need.

“This is a permanent solution to that problem,” said Alyssa Christiansen, Associated Students Inc. (ASI) care coordinator.

Christiansen stressed that the resource is for students in need.

According to the California State University Basic Needs Initiative conducted in 2018, 11% of CSU students reported struggling with insecurity.

“There is a pretty large need on campus,” Barnaby Peake, BSC director, said. 

Peake said according to the basic needs study, just over 40% of students reported food insecurity and 15% reported housing instability at Cal Poly Pomona in the previous year.

Getting started at the Poly Pantry is simple. Canned fruits and vegetables, soups, pasta and fruit juice fill the shelves and refrigerators in the Poly Pantry, along with toiletries and feminine hygiene products.

Up to five students are allowed in the pantry at one time and they must bring their Bronco ID card for checkout.

After a swipe of a Bronco ID upon each visit, a better understanding of how many students may be food insecure is calculated.

Students grab a shopping basket with a clipboard that contains a liability form to sign, as well as a shopping list to guide them on what they can take.

The idea is for students to go on a weekly basis and get enough food to sustain them nutritionally for the week.

All the contents inside the pantry are donated by the mobile food bank and campus organizations, including fraternities and sororities, which gathered canned food items at recent food drives.

Alyssa Christiansen and Angel Perez prepare the Poly Pantry for the opening. (Sarah Madrigal | The Poly Post)

Due to restrictions of quantity of food in the pantry, limitations are placed on how many items one may select to help keep food access equal among students.

“I feel like from two years ago, from when we did not have the mobile food pantry, we are making a lot of strides,” said Angel Perez, ASI officer of basic needs and third-year biotechnology major. “I feel like [the pantry] is the next thing, and I feel like it’s going to provide so much more support to students.”

The pantry is limiting social media marketing because the goal is to find students who are truly in need and so that people don’t think this is free food for just anyone. Although no one is denied, the purpose is to help those who struggle with being able to feed themselves properly.

The Poly Pantry is located in room 1333 in the BSC and is open from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

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