JEDI committee launches “Titan Food Pantry”

Alessia Girardin

The “Titan Pantry,” a food pantry meant to provide food for anyone on campus facing food insecurity, officially opened this week. The pantry was created by staff committee called JEDI (Justice, Equity, Diversity & Inclusion).

 

 The Titan Pantry is located on the first floor of the Hansen Student Center at the lockers by the information desk and is open during normal Hansen hours, which are during the week from 7:30 am – 11 pm and during the weekend from 9am to 11pm.

 

“We’re excited to be able to help make campus a better place. The Titan Pantry is a great resource for Titans who are food insecure and need help now,” Kristen Buhrmann, JEDI’s spokesperson, said. 

 

Food insecurity, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), is a household-level economic and social condition of limited or uncertain access to adequate food. Temple University’s Hope Center reported that almost 3 in 5 students surveyed in late 2020 reported food insecurity. 

 

JEDI is a staff group with the goal of educating and engaging with various campus offices and of bolstering allyship within our campus community. This group of staff works to affect change in smaller scale, yet still crucial, projects and processes to allow for information sharing and inspiration.

 

JEDI had this project on their minds since the summer. An idea came into fruition then, but the ball didn’t start rolling until the fall semester began. They spent several months meeting with campus departments and community groups to learn about how they’re working to address food insecurity within our community and how the Titan Pantry would fit into these other programs. 

 

Buhrmann said that The Titan Pantry is based on the Little Free Pantry model, which prides itself on the mission that there are no barriers or judgement on folks and that they can take what they need and leave what they can. 

 

The lockers at Hansen are labeled with what type of items are in them such as canned foods, snacks, quick meals, hygiene and toiletry products. The JEDI Staff welcomes faculty and staff to the pantry as well as they may also be food insecure in addition to students, as Buhrmann noted that JEDI wants to help in all the capacities it can. 

 

“The “take what you need, leave what you can” model makes it so there are no barriers or judgment involved when folks need help the most,” Buhrmann said.  “While there are other longer-term solutions and services available to the IWU community to combat food insecurity, the Titan Pantry offers immediate assistance.”

 

And according to Buhrmann, immediate assistance is what we need to make a difference. Based on a survey shared by Counseling & Consultation Services, 43 percent  of students indicated that they could not afford to eat balanced meals. 30 percent  cut size or skipped meals due to a lack of  money. 

 

“If we help 20 people or 2, we’ll be happy to be helping someone in our Titan community,” Buhrmann said.

 

JEDI previously found success in their coat/mitten/hat drive in late November/ early December where faculty and staff were asked to donate used coats and new hats/gloves/mittens for students to stop by and take what they needed, and they hope to continue similar efforts.