There are a lot of very obvious initiatives on campus that visibly exemplify what it means to be a sustainable university. Tailgate recycling, food waste projects in dining halls, Hydration Stations, reusable straws, and easy-to-use waste bins that separate plastics, paper, and regular waste. But there is a newer project that might seem moderately elusive to some students–the Bear Pantry.
The Bear Pantry is a project maintained by the Director of Community-Engaged Learning, Alex Johnson. It was started in January as a way to alleviate food insecurity on campus, as it is estimated that around 36% of students have experienced food insecurity nationwide. The Bear Pantry is home to shelves and shelves of non-perishable food items and hygiene products.
The food items are sorted by group–fruits and veggies, proteins, grains, and a few others. There is a suggested amount to take of each item, but generally clients can mix and match what they want to take with them. Students can either fill out an online form, or simply walk into the pantry and choose which items they want. The pantry is located on the first floor of the PSU.
While food insecurity is nothing to be insecure about, Johnson assured me that the process of using the food pantry was comfortable and discreet. The pantry is a no-questions-asked project. There is a back entrance, options for online orders, as well as personal appointments to meet with Johnson and ensure your comfortability with the process.
The Bear Pantry relies solely on donations, and the process for this is almost as easy as using the Bear Pantry. You can donate to the Bear Pantry indirectly, through programs like the MSU Food Drive. You can also drop off items directly to the pantry by scheduling an appointment with Johnson or simply taking your items to the pantry whenever you have a chance. All donations are greatly appreciated and make a huge difference!
The Bear Pantry clearly upholds the Sustainable Development Goal number two: Zero hunger. But what else is the Bear Pantry doing for sustainability? The Bear Pantry does all that it can to divert food waste and works to ensure that all products are taken well before their date. They are in the process of working with the Campus Garden to receive more fresh items for the pantry. The Bear Pantry recently received the award for Collaborative Program of the Year from Student Affairs. The pantry aims to be a campus-wide collaborative project and hopes that their message and efforts will be spread through the community so that people know what options they have to access food.
To make an appointment with Alex Johnson to donate, use, or just to learn more about the Bear Pantry, click here.