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5 Ways Campus Pantries Have Adapted During COVID-19

In the wake of COVID-19, it has been inspiring to see how campus food pantries across the Swipe Out Hunger network have both ramped up and adapted their operations to continue providing vital services to students who remain on campus. Check out these techniques and trends that have been implemented during this time of social distancing and campus closures:  

Grab and Go Bags

At University of South Carolina, students can come to the Student Union once a week to pick up a reusable nylon bag filled with approximately 10 of the pantry’s most popular nonperishable food items. Vegetarian and vegan options are available. 

At the University of Minnesota, the Nutritious U team has transitioned to a model using pre-packed bags to eliminate direct contact with food and between people who visit the pantry. They have also extended the hours and frequency of their pop up distributions. The Nutritious U volunteers pre-package four different bag options containing a combination of fruits, vegetables, grains, and protein. Shoppers can choose a bag and swap out options if they would like to. 

Online Deliveries

At University of Minnesota, students can use a food pantry ordering form to request groceries. Those that are in self-quarantine and unable to leave their home can request delivery. 

At Mercy College, the Mav Market team created an emergency food request form enabling students, faculty and staff to order groceries online (similar to InstaCart). 

Hygiene Protocols

At Eastern Washington University, the pantry team implemented rules like hand washing before entering, keeping 6 feet apart, and having only 3 people in the pantry at once to maintain social distancing.   

At University of Southern Mississippi, the Eagle’s Nest staff are using a to-go window to distribute pre-packaged bags containing a week’s worth of essential items. 

Alternative Distribution Sites

At University of Southern Mississippi, the pantry team plans to make the university police station the pickup site if the campus pantry is required to close its doors.

At University of South Carolina, after the main pantries closed, an area of the Student Union was designated as a pick-up site. If the student union closes, students will be able to make appointments to schedule a time to pick up bags with nonperishable items. 

Sourcing Food

At Eastern Washington University, the pantry continues to receive weekly deliveries from their primary food bank partner, Second Harvest. They also ordered a large amount of supplemental items through Dining Services used funding from their Foundation Account, which includes funds collected from prior meal point donation drives. In addition, they continue reaching out to a local grocery outlet to see if they have donations. 

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