For some, buying enough food to sustain themselves simply isn’t an option. 1 in every 5 were food instable in Marion county in 2013. Many are choosing between school expenses and food, and many others have various extra expenses as well, such as child care. Indianapolis is being described right now as a “food desert,” which means there is a limitation on the amounts of fresh foods available. Marion county also has one of the highest rates of food shortages in the state.
The Paws Pantry is a fully student run food pantry available to all staff, faculty, and students. The pantry is open on Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 a.m. to 6 p.m., and it is located in Campus Center room 220.
When you arrive at the pantry, you will be greeted by a friendly volunteer who will direct you on what the method is. The Paws Pantry works with a point system with some products being more points than others and some items being worth less than a point. Points are given based on need.
Crissie Geels is an avid volunteer at the Paws Pantry. “It is great that we have this, but it’s sad that we need it,” she said about the current issues with food shortage surrounding Marion County.
The Paws Pantry is one of many community options to help with this problem. They are only open two days per week but see a rough average of 45 shoppers. Between August and October, the Paws Pantry gave away 3,478 individual items.
The Paws Pantry is always in need. If you’re looking to donate to the Paws Pantry, you can do so at many of the drop-off boxes around campus. They are constantly in need of items such as canned goods, cereals, and rice. You can also donate household items such as silverware, plates, and clothes.
You can also volunteer to work in the Paws Pantry. Volunteers are required to donate at least 10 hours of their time to the Paws Pantry to encourage a relationship with customers as well as encourage confidentially. You can either check shoppers in on Wednesdays or Thursdays or volunteer to help with collection on Fridays.
Gunjan Parmar is the lead volunteer and has been volunteering with the Paws Pantry since 2013. “The opportunity came through the learning community requirement. I was looking around and looking around and this came as an option. I really liked it and sticked with it,” he said about the experience.
The Paws Pantry hosts a food drive for Thanksgiving each year called Jam the Pantry. This year, they plan to give out holiday baskets to ensure families in need have a Thanksgiving dinner. If you need a basket, you can sign up at the Paws Pantry. If you’d like to donate, please place Thanksgiving-themed items such as dried potatoes, canned goods, and dried stuffing in the drop-off bins located around campus.
This year, schools are battling each other for the most donated items. See if your school is already involved, and if not, get them involved! The drive ends November 19.
Hunger is a symptom of a much larger problem. There are many layers to it including economics and education. To combat the food issues, some places have began “ugly good movements,” which is selling food that is less than perfect at a discounted rate.
Another suspected contributor to the issues with students and hunger is there is no curriculum in Indiana that teaches students how to cook, eat nutritiously, and budget money to buy food.
Food banks, such as the Paws Pantry, are a great resource to help make ends meet. The Paws Pantry is completely free and available for any faculty, staff, and students who need a little extra help.