New food pantry helps Point Park University students in need
An on-campus food pantry has been established to serve students in need at Point Park University.
The Pioneer Pantry, on the second floor of Lawrence Hall, is the third food pantry opened at a college or university in Western Pennsylvania. It follows the University of Pittsburgh and the Community College of Allegheny County.
The number of college food pantries has risen from nine in 2009 to almost 300 in 2016.
According to a university news release, a survey of more than 325 of its students found that about 38 percent have faced times during the school year when they did not have enough food for themselves or their households.
Point Park graduate and doctoral student Veronika Panagiotu spearheaded Pioneer Pantry. Upon visiting a food bank, she was shocked by how many young people were in line for food, and wondered how many Point Park students could benefit from a pantry.
According to Feeding America’s executive summary, Hunger in America 2014, one in 10 adults seeking assistance from the food bank network in the U.S. is a student. About 31 percent of students interviewed for that survey reported being forced to choose between paying for food or their education.
Students wanting to use Pioneer Pantry can fill out an online order at www.pioneerpantry.org. Students are alerted by text when orders are ready. A valid Point Park identification is required.
Students using the pantry can get up to 10 items twice a month. Those needing more will not be turned away, but must meet with a counselor so the university can see if they need more help.
Pioneer Pantry is affiliated with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank. The university’s new Department of Community Engagement oversees its operation, and it is staffed by student, faculty and staff volunteers.