Food Pantry at Iowa brings new location to west side

After nearly a year in developing their idea, the Food Pantry at Iowa has announced the expansion to the west side of campus.


Matthew Finley

The LGBTQ Resource Center is seen on Januahry 16, 2019. The center is the future home of the newest branch of the UI Food Pantry.

Alexandra Skores, News Reporter

The University of Iowa Food Pantry has brought food into the households of many students, faculty, and staff to help ease the financial burdens.

After nearly three years of service to the community from the IMU, the newly appointed executive team officially announced the expansion of the Food Pantry to the West Campus.

The new facility will be located in the Pride House, behind Slater Residence Hall, said Executive Director Christian Zirbes. With the help of former Executive Director Carissa Bailey, the idea has been in the works for a little more than a year, and it will finally have a place on campus to reach more of the Hawkeye community, Zirbes said.

“This started as a small idea Carissa had last year,” he said. “Since then, we have partnered with various campus partners, such as UISG, to make this happen. We certainly could not have done this alone.”

Location of the new facility:

As statistics on student hunger grow increasingly dismal, food pantries are college campuses’ attempts to combat those rising numbers, a report from the Government Accountability Office says.

The report said, “Many college students may not have enough to eat — but nobody knows exactly how many. We looked at student use of the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program. Of the 3.3 million students who were potentially eligible in 2016, fewer than half said they participated.”

The report also said that as of September 2018, more than 650 colleges reported having food pantries providing free food to college students in need.

“The UI Food Pantry hopes to address [SNAP education] with the expansion of the pantry and more projects to come,” Zirbes said. “Our biggest priority is to increase the accessibility of the Food Pantry in the Hawkeye community and continue to bring awareness to campus on these sorts of issues that students face.”

The East Side Pantry is located in 212 IMU, with varying hours each day.

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Food Pantry West manager Kayla Carter said the past few weeks have been crucial in making the vision a reality.

“We have the location,” she said. “We have the logistics of the project pretty set. What we need now is to seek out more inventory and raise awareness about this new service.”

Food Pantry West will be available in mid- to late-February for people to use, Carter said. The main difference between the two pantries is that fewer perishable items will be offered on the West Side.

“We want to keep the inventory as close as possible to that of the East Side Pantry; however, because West Side will not have a refrigerator, perishable items such as dairy will not be available. The pantry will still have fruits and other compostable items, but once we are able to see how well the West Side pantry does, we can start to look into the addition of a refrigerator,” Carter said.

She noted that a big goal for the executive team is to see where the similarities and differences lie between the two locations and understand the data for their clients and what community each pantry targets.

“We really hope to target more of the graduate student population with this new addition [on] the West Side,” Carter said. “Not many graduate students use the pantry, but we want them to use our services if they need to.”