Spotlight on Partnerships

Just Food, Campus Organizations Provide KU Food Pantry
November 14, 2014

This article is one in a series of stories highlighting collaborations between KU and Douglas County United Way community partners. Through December 12, 2014, KU encourages donations to the KU United Way Fund Drive in support of human service agency efforts like the one below. Donations can be made through United Way by payroll deduction, paper pledge form, or credit card gift.

LAWRENCE – Jeremy Farmer, Chief Executive Officer of Just Food, likes to drive the point home that hunger is a local, not just national or international, challenge.

“Hunger is an issue around the world, but it’s also an issue across the street,” he tells audiences when he represents the food bank of Douglas County.

For members of the KU community, hunger may be just down the hall. Erin Ice, KU senior and hunger activist, was surprised at how invisible hunger can be on campus.

“It was shocking,” Ice said, recalling a time she realized that students much like her didn’t have enough to eat. “It made me realize that anyone could need a pantry.”
Though multiple pantries exist around Lawrence, interest for a campus pantry started at KU in 2012 after members of the campus organization KU Fights Hunger attended a state-wide hunger conference. Thelma Simon, president of KU Fights Hunger, returned from the conference with motivation to start a similar effort at KU.

“We had been aware of other campuses opening food pantries across the country. Learning about campus food pantries in Kansas encouraged us to take action,” said Simons.

A survey of the Lawrence KU community, along with knowledge from focus groups held by Just Food, showed there was need and desire to have a campus food pantry for KU.

To get the new pantry started, KU Fights Hunger partnered with Just Food to work through plans and logistics. Ecumenical Campus Ministries (ECM) offered space in their building to house the pantry. Daily Bread, a KU Center for Community Outreach student volunteer group, took on recruiting and training volunteers to organize and run the pantry.

Now known as the Campus Cupboard, the pantry welcomed its first guests in September 2013 and is currently open Thursdays from 4-7pm in the lower level of ECM for anyone who needs it. Ice, a Daily Bread coordinator, underscored the importance of creating the pantry with Just Food.

“It allows us to meet a need and provide resources on campus where there wasn't that ability before,” Ice said. “Although I primarily work with the KU population, collaborating with Just Food gives a broader context for our work and the importance of it.”

Christina Holt, KU Fights Hunger member and KU Work Group for Community Health and Development Associate Director, connects the partnership with Campus Cupboard to Just Food’s broader mission of fighting hunger:

“[Our] partnership allows us to strengthen Just Food’s vision for freedom from hunger for all residents of Douglas County.”

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