Little-Known OSU Emergency Food Pantry Gets National Attention

foodpantryWith online access codes, ridiculous parking rates, and the increasingly overpriced on-campus stores, it is becoming more and more difficult for some students to cover basic necessities. Though gas prices are thankfully down for the moment, food costs continue to rise globally. Eating instant noodles every night of the week is a surprisingly viable option when faced with a choice between healthy food or student loan payments. Luckily, student volunteers have taken the initiative to alleviate the problem a bit here in Corvallis.

Located on campus at OSU’s Snell Hall/MU East International Forum, the Emergency Food Pantry is an invaluable resource for Corvallis residents with food insecurity. Run by students, and in collaboration with Linn-Benton Food Share and the Oregon State University Foundation, the pantry provides food that is free, safe, and easily accessible to those in need. Food is prepared off-site, then organized at the pantry inside cooled, frozen, and dry rooms. Participants are given snacks and videos to watch while they wait in line.

Although the pantry aims to be a highly charitable function for the community, it is still a relatively unknown resource compared to other campus programs such as student tutoring or the Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS), which garner more consistent publicity. Anywhere from 50 to 150 households are supported by this initiative, depending on the time of year and whether the school term is in session. It has previously been featured in both The Barometer and The Oregonian, but it has been awhile.

Rather than a full-time program, the pantry is open for its main food distributions only twice per month, usually on a Monday or Wednesday (with some exceptions). This might seem to lessen the “emergency” nature of the pantry, though they do have an additional system in place to account for this. From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. on normal weekdays you can head to Snell Hall Room 233 where they keep a few nonperishable items handy for students who find themselves in a pinch. Since the organization is run by students who work on a volunteer basis, it is limited by a shortage of funding and resources that would allow the pantry to be fully open more often. Funding comes mostly from regular donations and fundraisers at this time.

The pantry office receives many calls from other schools asking about their process and model. There is apparently some appreciation for the program across the nation and even internationally, with at least one South Korean school expressing interest. A more widespread and larger Emergency Food Pantry initiative could very well attain greater funding and much-needed publicity for this type of student-run organization.

The next openings of the OSU Emergency Food Pantry are on Monday, March 9 and Wednesday, March 25; bring a bag. Feel free to stop by, as it is open to Corvallis students and non-students alike.

Words by Christian Smith & Pictures by Lauren Nichols