Cats' Cupboard reaches 2,000th visit ahead of year anniversary
Thursday, Aug. 30, 2018
The Cats' Cupboard, Kansas State University's food pantry, is marking a productive first year of helping students facing food insecurity.
MANHATTAN — The Cats' Cupboard, Kansas State University's food pantry, is celebrating a milestone in supporting students facing food insecurity: 2,000 visits in less than 11 months of being open.
"A majority of students who visit the Cats' Cupboard are undergraduates from every single college on campus, and many of them have experienced food insecurity well before their arrival to K-State," said Sarah Barrett, Clery Act federal compliance coordinator and food pantry supervisor.
Food insecurity is a lack of access to consistent healthy food, a problem for about 13.2 percent of Kansas families, Barrett said. Even as children move away to college seeking a better future, it remains a problem during those college years, she said.
According to statistics from the Wisconsin Hope Lab in April, the national average for food insecurity among college and university students is 36 percent, which is in alignment with Kansas State University's food insecurity rate of 39.4 percent.
"It is vital for K-State to holistically respond to student needs — academically and on a personal level," Barrett said. "When students are hungry, they can't focus and when they can't focus, they can't be academically successful."
With the exception of Erin Bishop, food pantry coordinator, and a graduate student, the pantry is staffed by student volunteers, who have contributed more than 500 hours to make sure that the shelves are stocked and students feel welcome. Since the pantry only has the capability to stock nonperishable foods right now, Bishop and Barrett have established a few partnerships for the 2018-2019 school year that will help students get access to fresher products.
"The animal sciences and industry department will be donating $20 for 80 students each month to purchase fresh ground beef, eggs, milk and cheese from the Call Hall Dairy Bar for a nutritious diet," Bishop said. "We also will continue to pair with a horticulture class that is growing hydroponic lettuce."
To celebrate the 2,000th-visit milestone, the pantry's first birthday and World Food Day, the Cats' Cupboard will host an open cupboard event Oct. 15-19. Volunteers will be available to increase awareness of the pantry's services, give tours and host a donation drive to stock the shelves.
"Most of the items on our shelves come from student, staff and community food drives, our KSU Foundation account or our Amazon wish list — we love when we get food packages from there," Bishop said. "We also are starting our second year of a three-year grant but we are looking for long-term funding sources to make this self-sustaining. We are always grateful to receive donations of any kind, and we continuously update our website, k-state.edu/cats-cupboard/pantry-needs/index.html, with our immediate needs and ways to donate."
The Cats' Cupboard is in 009 Fairchild Hall and is open six days a week: 5-7 p.m. Sundays; noon to 7 p.m. Mondays; 9 a.m. to noon and 1-5 p.m. Tuesdays; 1-5 p.m. Wednesdays; 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursdays; and 9 a.m. to noon Fridays.