Pop-up Food Pantry launches online donation site to benefit students

Pop-Up Pantry

Donations collected for the Pop-Up Pantry, sponsored by the Undergraduate Student Government and the UIC Wellness Center. The pantry served a record 130 students Jan. 22. Photo: Timothy Nguyen

 

Students can use a helping hand every now and then.

UIC’s Pop-Up Pantry returns Thursday to offer free canned goods to students with i-card between 11 a.m. and 4 p.m. in 604A Student Center East. Interested in donating but don’t want to carry canned goods to campus? The pantry’s new website allows monetary donations online. Carol Petersen, associate director of the Wellness Center and co-founder and co-director of the pantry, will use the money to buy canned goods for future pantry days.

The last Pop-Up Pantry, sponsored by the Undergraduate Student Government and UIC Wellness Center, had the largest turnout since the initiative began in November, with a record 130 students making use of the resource Jan. 22.

Brandon Gaskew, co-founder and co-director of the pantry, believes it was marketing and word-of-mouth that helped promote it. “And the fact that students need this resource,” said Gaskew, vice president of Undergraduate Student Government and a senior in political science.

Based on a survey, the largest group of students who used the resource in January were seniors, followed by graduate students.

Senior year is a difficult time for many students, Gaskew said. “They’re transitioning between having a job or staying at school, and they can have a heavy course load,” he said.

“It’s even worse for grad students because they have so much going on,” he added. “Some of them are teaching assistants and they don’t make a lot of money, so this resource is really beneficial to them as well.”

The Pop-Up Pantry grew from Gaskew and Petersen’s previous project – the Emergency Go Bags service, which supplied clothes, toiletries and other comforts to homeless students. The number of homeless students at UIC is unknown because it’s not reported, Gaskew said.

“People at UIC come from all different walks of life, and food is always a basic human right for people,” he said. “A few cans of food can go a long way for someone.”

Food donations for the Pop-Up Pantry can be dropped off at the Dean of Students Office (3030 Student Services Building), the Undergraduate Student Success Center (111 Stevenson Hall), the African American Academic Network (2800 Student Services Building), the Wellness Center (238 Student Center East) and the Library of Health Sciences.