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Our Campus Survey: More of Your Questions Answered

On March 20, 2024, we launched a new public paper and interactive dashboard at our virtual Town Hall: Insights From Our Campus Survey. The data about our campus food pantry partners sparked incredible conversations and brought up some interesting questions from attendees. We couldn’t answer them all at the Town Hall, but we didn’t forget! Executive Director Jaime Hansen and our panelists, Natasha Byrd and Fynn Grindle from Oglethorpe University and Annette Ditolvo from Temple University, have the answers to your questions.

Question: Are food banks being represented in the “Donations” or “Community Organizations” field of this graph?

Jaime: Food banks are included in “Donations.” In fact, many food banks support their higher education campuses, opening up an opportunity to access free and reduced-cost inventory that can increase the sustainability and consistency of food available for students. It’s an incredible resource! But, not all our campuses report being able to partner with their local food banks for various reasons.

Question: What barriers have campus pantries experienced when becoming recipients of food bank donations?
Jaime: Here are some common responses our campuses have received from food banks:
1) Partnership is already at capacity – the food banks have limited resources to bring on partners due to staffing, trucks, infrastructure, availability of inventory, and other capacity issues.
2) De-prioritization of higher education – a couple of campus partners have been informed that their local food bank will not partner with higher education institutions because they do not prioritize higher education students as a demographic in need.

Question: Do you feel seen and heard by your institution? Do you think your institution is taking food insecurity seriously?
Jaime: Every campus reports a different level of investment from their administration. Some campuses feel very seen and report a level of financial support that they recognize as commiserate with the level of need on their campus. Other campuses report the opposite — they are fully staffed by volunteers and run on the generosity of their community. Of course, there are campuses in-between and across the spectrum of that investment from administration.

Natasha: I think that a number of different stakeholders are listening. We tailor “the why” depending on the stakeholder, but as an almost 3-year-old pantry, I think that we have made some wonderful partnerships with staff, faculty, on-campus offices, local community members, and student organizations in ways that we could not have imagined when we started.

Question: How many pantry staff does Oglethorpe have? Thinking about the logistics of smart lockers and grab bags.
Natasha and Fynn: Oglethorpe has 3 staff members – one full-time staff, two part-time student employees, and a squad of volunteer students. Although we do not have smart lockers, we are lucky to have a set of typical lockers outside our pantry that we use for those requesting a private or after hours pick-up. We provide detailed pick-up instructions for clients through email.

Question: What vendor did you use to purchase the smart locker?
Jaime: One Town Hall participant who operates a campus pantry mentioned they use LuxerOne for smart lockers.

Question: Did I understand Annette to say that Temple University’s main campus is supporting their satellite campuses with food insecurity?  What exactly does that look like?
Annette: Yes, the main campus supports their three regional campuses with inventory. Each campus provides services in slightly different ways depending on capacity. Two of our campuses have weekly distribution times for shoppers to come and pick up pre-packaged bags filled with 15-20 food items. At the other regional campus, we have an online ordering form for shoppers to pick their food items, and once the order is received, staff package each student’s personalized bag and are given a timeframe to pick up their groceries.

Question: What does the pantry look like at Temple and how do they market it to students to let them know about this resource?
Annette: The pantry at Temple is a client choice pantry. We have shelving desks for checkout, shelving units for food, bins for storage, a fridge for perishable items, and a closet for our hygiene items. We have found a lot of success in increasing visibility on our program through Instagram and weekly email newsletters as a consistent way of communicating with our shoppers. We have also found success with tabling at events, distributing syllabi statements to interested faculty members, and presenting in classes. 

Question: Have any of you faced issues with dining hall hours and accessibility in the wake of the pandemic? If so, how have you handled this?
Natasha: Oglethorpe did have extended “late night” hours prior to the pandemic that were then reduced during the pandemic. Late night hours have not yet returned and a large part has to do with considerations for travel time for dining hall staff. I think it is important to remember the effects of the twin pandemic and the various ways that racism affects individuals across the food services. Our pantry attempts to support students who have needs outside of typical dining hall hours, but are in the beginning phases of growing out programs. For example, we are most grateful for our collaboration with Muslim Student Association during Ramadan. 

Annette: I came into my role in the fall of 2022, so I can’t speak thoroughly towards this. However, Temple has had some recent changes around their dining services. One of the two dining halls on campus closed in the Fall 2023 semester and there has been a recent enforcement of rules around not allowing guests to “swipe in” under someone else’s meal plan. There have been some internal conversations around how to best mitigate the dining concerns with the levels of food insecurity on campus. This has even built momentum around the organization of an official Swipe Out Hunger Chapter on our campus. Our main focus has always been serving our population and forwarding food security efforts on campus.


Want to hear more amazing insights from our panelists? Make sure to watch the Town Hall, and keep exploring the data with our public paper and interactive dashboard! If you would like to learn more about programs fighting hunger on campus and want to be connected to a Swipe Out Hunger team member, email [email protected]

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