The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

The independent newspaper of the University of Iowa community since 1868

The Daily Iowan

UI food pantry and clothing closet open space in Iowa Memorial Union

The new location aims to combat hunger at the University of Iowa.
Alyssa Miner
Organizers of the Iowa Memorial Union food pantry cut the ribbon during the pantry’s grand opening in Iowa City on Thursday Aug. 24, 2023.

The University of Iowa’s food pantry and clothing closet opened in a new space in the Iowa Memorial Union on Thursday.

The clothing closet and food pantry provide necessities for anyone with a university ID card. Items at the Food Pantry at Iowa range from canned goods to toiletries and the Clothing Closet at Iowa provides new and used clothes.

UI Division of Student Life Basic Needs Coordinator Stephanie Beecher played an instrumental role in shifting the structure of the food pantry.

At the beginning of the year, the food pantry switched models. It was previously run by a student organization, received funds from stipends, and did not have equitable pay.

Students working at the old pantry were paid less than $2 an hour. After the shift, the pantry extended its hours from 12 hours a week to 27 hours, open Tuesday through Friday.

Beecher said the food pantry saw an 84 percent increase in clientele between August 2021 through August 2022.

“Forty percent of our students are food insecure,” Beecher said. “If we can provide any nutrition, any cultural items that contribute to students’ food insecurity, that’s what we’re all about.”

The food pantry was previously located on the second floor of the IMU before moving to the space formerly occupied by Hills Bank. Beecher said moving to the new space creates visibility, reduces stigma, helps with donations, and raises awareness.

RELATED: USG, GPSG looks to increase, continue funding for Food Pantry at Iowa

“Our goal was to create a basic needs hub,” Beecher said. “Now it’s all a central location.”

Undergraduate Student Government recently committed $60,000 per year for the next five years in funding for the pantry.

“Our student food pantry plays a pretty critical role in addressing food insecurity among students and our greater community,” Yunseo Ki, a senior majoring in political science, said. “Ensuring that every student has access to nutritious food not only helps alleviate immediate hunger, but also enhances our overall wellbeing and academic success.”

The pantry now features storage space, expanding its ability to hold non-perishable items. Pallets of food come to the IMU from Cedar Rapids. In its first year, the pantry provided 9,000 pounds of food; this year the pantry gave 125,000 pounds of food.

“This is a long time coming, and there’s been people that have been dealing with food insecurity for so long,” Beecher said. “What this shows from a human dignity standpoint, is you’re worthy, it’s okay that you come here.”

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About the Contributors
Will Bower
Will Bower, Arts Reporter
Will Bower is a freshman student at the University of Iowa. Hailing from the suburbs of Des Moines, Will has a double major in Journalism and History. Before arriving in Iowa City, Will worked on his high school publication and was active in the theatrical arts. At the Daily Iowan, Will works as a news reporter and looks forward to gaining experience in a professional newsroom.
Roxy Ekberg
Roxy Ekberg, Politics Reporter
Roxy Ekberg is a first year at the University of Iowa. In the Honors Program, she is double majoring in journalism and political science with a minor in Spanish. Prior to her role as a politics reporter, she worked news reporter at the Daily Iowan and worked at her local newspaper The Wakefield Republican.
Alyssa Miner, Photojournalist
Alyssa Miner is a second year at The University of Iowa studying Enterprise Leadership and Studio Arts. Miner is a photographer for the Daily Iowan and captures wedding and senior photos in the summer.