Student food pantry on campus

Operation Pantry Plenty is a confidential food pantry available to all California Lutheran University students. It offers canned goods, nonperishable foods, convenient portable meals, gift cards to grocery stores and meal tickets to the Ullman Commons.The food pantry is currently not refrigerated, and holds no products in need of refrigeration such as milk.

Senior Christy Johnson adds her name to the pantry after adding her food donations. Photo by Andrew Turley - Staff photographer
Senior Christy Johnson adds her name to the pantry after adding her food donations.
Photo by Andrew Turley – Staff photographer

The food pantry is available to students year round, including the holiday breaks in the Samuelson Chapel classroom.

If students choose to help themselves when the chapel is closed, they can contact Campus Safety to open the doors for them. The gift cards are in $10 denominations and must be requested by the administration. The meal tickets must also be requested by the administration.

Students need not disclose any information to use the pantry. Elizabeth Lohr-Myers, administrative assistant in the office of Campus Ministry, said the pantry is there to put the needs of the students first.

“We like to make it so that the students aren’t embarrassed to come here, so we don’t ask questions,” Lohr-Myers said.

The pantry provides a list of allies that students can contact such as Catholic services or Lutheran Social Services.

The food drive was founded three years ago in response to the Development Relief and Education for Alien Minors Act. 

“The university was working hard to welcome and include them,” Campus Pastor Melissa Maxwell-Doherty said.

The university sent representatives to UCLA’s Dream Act center where they discovered a larger scale food pantry. The representatives decided to mimic the idea and set up a similar food pantry using a cupboard from a former administrative assistant to the campus ministry office.

The pantry was first offered to the Dream Act students and was then expanded to the whole school. The ministry was hesitant to publicize the pantry to Ventura County as the resources and staff were insufficient.

One of the recent discoveries by the ministry was that awareness of this resource is scarce. Few students know that it exists therefore few students make use of this resource and few contribute.

Sophomore Tess Tait, a worker for the office of Campus Ministry has been raising awareness at events such as holding booths on the spine and making announcements at Common Ground.

“When I made an announcement at Common Ground, I opened it with asking how many students knew that this is available to students at Cal Lutheran and only about 10 students raised their hands,” Tait said.

The campus ministry office is making announcements at Chapel and Common Ground and sending faculty messages to increase student’s awareness. Resident Assitants are also encouraging students to make use of this initiative.

“There’s not a lot of student involvement yet, but hopefully there will be,” Lohr-Myers said.

The pantry is getting used more often. It was used this past summer, an occurrence that had not happened in previous years.

The founders of this project are involved immensely in it. Tait commented that her passion for this project was a result of seeing the passion and effort exuded by the other ministry workers, specifically Maxwell-Doherty.

The Pantry is one of the resources offered by the university to aid with the cost of college. “It’s a good thing to share out of my abundance. I don’t worry that I won’t have food or that I will go hungry but a lot of the world does. This is one way we can be attentive to students for whom food may not be scarce but the expense of [food] when they are trying to meet all the other expenses,” Maxwell-Doherty said.

America Rojas
Staff Writer
Published September 30th, 2015