4 key to-dos for your campus pantry during the coronavirus crisis

Expert Insight

4 key to-dos for your campus pantry during the coronavirus crisis

As colleges and universities respond to the COVID-19 crisis, student affairs leaders and their teams have been on the frontlines, making sure that equity is embedded into campus decision-making and action plans. 

Food insecure students are particularly vulnerable right now as institutions reduce dining hours and options, cancel group events, and in some cases close campus housing. 

How can you best keep your campus informed about services and resources as the situation continues to evolve at your institution?

1. Keep your campus food pantry’s website up-to-date

While many institutions provided a link to resources for food insecure students either in their email announcements from the president or their institutional FAQs, however, the situation on each campus continues to shift on a daily basis regarding operating status, staffing, and services. 

It is important to ensure that the pantry’s website as well as any institution-wide FAQs are updated with the current operating hours and procedures for accessing the pantry. A quick audit of several college and university sites found that only a handful had updated information on the pantry website and/or in the institutional FAQs. 

2. Send periodic reminders about basic needs resources to students, faculty, and staff

Individuals’ situations are changing rapidly as COVID-19 spreads. Someone who didn’t pay attention to information about campus food pantry resources 10 days ago might find themselves needing to access them now.  Therefore, it is important to ensure that stakeholders across campus have updated information about what is available, how to access it, and who to contact for additional questions. 

3. Consider temporarily opening the pantry to students, staff, and faculty

Colleges and universities have taken a range of approaches to their food pantries, some limiting it only to students in need while others have opened it up to the entire campus community. 

If your pantry is limited to solely students, consider whether it might be feasible to temporarily extend the services to faculty and staff. In particular, hourly staff and adjuncts are two populations that student affairs leaders have highlighted as particularly at-risk right now.   


Raised for the Wildcat Cupboard at Kansas State in 2019
Raised for the Wildcat Cupboard at Kansas State in 2019

4. Partner with your advancement office to run a fundraising appeal

Many alumni, parents, and other community members are concerned about the hardships students are facing in light of COVID-19 and are proactively asking for opportunities to help. Consider reaching out to your advancement colleagues to see whether the campus food pantry could be prominently featured in any upcoming fundraising appeals. These campaigns can have a huge impact: In 2019, Kansas State raised over $320,000 for the Wildcat Cupboard on their Day of Giving.

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