Food for thought

With a new name and new location, the Raider Food Pantry is positioned to assist more Wright State University students who experience food insecurity.

The new pantry, which is three times bigger than the former location in Allyn Hall, is more visible and accessible to students.

“Now we have this huge space where numerous people can be in here at the same time,” said Joanna Evans, a graduate assistant and licensed social worker who manages the pantry. “We definitely will be able to serve more students.”

A grand reopening is scheduled Monday, April 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. in 055 Student Union to show off the spacious quarters.

Light refreshments will be served. Attendees are asked to bring a frozen food donation to stock the new freezer, donated by AAUP-WSU.

The Raider Food Pantry, formerly called the Friendship Food Pantry, is an emergency food service pantry that can serve students and their families once a month. The name was changed to make sure Wright State students know the pantry is for them.

“Our goal is to be able to serve students more than once because we have the space, and we can take in more food so we can provide more food now,” said Evans.


The Raider Food Pantry will host a grand reopening on Monday, April 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. in its new space in 055 Student Union. (Video by Kris Sproles)

All food is donated and the pantry also partners with the Dayton Food Bank.

The pantry served 214 students, which translated into 441 household members, from August 2018 through February 2019.

Food pantry volunteers may also refer clients to campus or community programs and agencies that can assist with other needs they may have.

“We do offer some case management right now but we want to expand on that,” Evans added. “Now that we have a private office in our new space, we can have clients come in and work with them one on one.”

The generosity of Wright State students, faculty, staff, the local community and the dedicated service of its volunteer staff make the pantry possible. Two student interns and 18 active volunteers assist Evans with day-to-day operations. The pantry is coordinated through the Office of the Vice Provost for Student Affairs and guided by an advisory board.

“I’m a social work major, so my entire career is to work with vulnerable populations,” explained Evans. “This has been a wonderful opportunity to me.”

From August through December of last year, 1,519 pounds of food were donated to the pantry while 2,778 pounds of food were given to those who requested food assistance. A March Meal Madness competition between 14 departments and groups on campus, as well as several organizations off campus, helped stock the extra shelves in the expanded location.

Raider Food Pantry provides emergency food and referrals primarily to Wright State students in times of need, helping them to stay in school and meet their educational goals. Students may drop in during open hours or may call and make an appointment.

The pantry also assists faculty, staff and community members in need of emergency food and referrals in order to relieve food insecurities and their underlying causes in the Dayton community.

Food and monetary donations may be made at the pantry during open hours. Food items also may be deposited in two bins outside the pantry when the pantry is not open. Details about making online contributions can be found on the food pantry’s website. The pantry also receives financial donations through the Kroger Plus Card Community Rewards Program.

Spring semester hours for the Raider Food Pantry:

  • Mondays: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.
  • Tuesdays: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Wednesdays: 10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
  • Thursdays: 11 a.m. – 4 p.m.

The pantry opened in 2011, following a survey that revealed 48 percent of students polled had experienced food insecurity while attending Wright State. That discovery led Cathy Sayer, director of service-learning at the time, to write a Host Site application to secure an AmeriCorps*VISTA employee. She succeeded and Rebecca Fensler came on board and served as the coordinator for the food pantry from 2011 through 2012.

Food insecurity among college students can result from several factors. Many students must balance family, work and school, and some may have recently become underemployed or unemployed. These challenges especially can be problematic for students with families. Students attending college away from home may have access to social services in their home communities, but limited access in Greene County, where the university is located.

For questions, contact the food pantry at foodpantry@wright.edu or 937-775-2617.

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