By Alyssa Peña
LOGOS Staff Writer
The Student Government Association and other organizations across campus have come together to create the Cardinal Cupboard, a mobile food pantry to help hungry students.
In a recent study conducted by the U.S. Government Accountability Office, 50 percent of students across U.S. campuses have said they have experienced insecurities when it comes to food. This is a hidden issue on college campuses — and UIW is no exception. The cupboard officially began last fall, but SGA President Mariana Barron Esper, a senior, said this project has been in development for a few years.
Alotaibi Malak – a past SGA senator for the HEB School of Business and Administration – developed a proposal because he saw a need for students to have access to food. He spoke with many faculty members and developed the idea for the future.
However, when Esper became SGA president, she came in with a plan for student government to put the idea into action. “We represent the students here and the cupboard came up again [on my list to do] and I thought that this is something that needs to be addressed,” Esper said. “We shouldn’t have students that have food insecurities and can’t have a fulfilled college experience.”
She met with Sister Walter Maher, vice president of Mission and Ministry, Dr. Paul Ayala, associate dean of campus engagement, faculty from different departments and the Ettling Center for Civic Leadership and Sustainability. That was when SGA decided to team up with St. Vincent de Paul – a partner also in SGA’s Golden Harvest food drive. St. Vincent de Paul let SGA borrow a truck to create a mobile food pantry.
The whole purpose of Cardinal Cupboard is to help students get food when they don’t have access to it. “Many students see food as a last priority, below books and gas,” Esper said. “So with many students, what happens is they might only have one or two good meals a day or they eat very little. That’s why we hope through the cupboard we can get more items so they can prepare food at home.”
So, once a week – alternating on Wednesdays and Thursdays – the pantry is open; students and the UIW community can stop by to receive non-perishable canned food they need for them and their families.
Since the cupboard is a student-led organization, the panty is led by students, too; senators from SGA, student volunteers, and now volunteers from the nutrition department, master’s students, and from the Ettling Center. Students can also receive community service hours for helping out for a few hours each time the pantry is open. And Esper said if students are interested, then they can contact the Ettling Center.
So far, the Cardinal Cupboard has been a success, Esper said, but she knows this endeavor has so much more potential. “I just presented to the President’s Council to get recognition and support, so we can get an official location,” she said. “The truck is temporary.”