Lion Food Pantry launches first full semester on campus

Christian Aleman, Co-Editor

Elisabet Martinez takes inventory of the food pantry’s supplies. Photo Courtesy | Christian Aleman

Christian Aleman | Co-Editor

The Lion Food Pantry is still settling into a routine to serve the student community with the fall being the first full semester it’s open.

After officially opening earlier this year, the pantry has served around a hundred students, according to Elisabet Martinez, the Graduate Assistant for the Student Case Manager. It currently has a tentative schedule with openings twice a month throughout the semester starting on Sept. 12 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.

The pantry is currently open to any A&M-Commerce student, regardless of economic status. Having it open for all students rather than a select group helps combat the stigma attached to receiving support from a food pantry, Martinez said.

“We base it off of, if the student is coming in, we see it as they need it,” Martinez said.“In our perspective, most students will not come to the food pantry by themselves. That was one of the harder things. So, we’ve made it a priority that this is for all students.”

Students who go to the Lion Food Pantry are required to bring their student ID, and first-time visitors will be asked to fill out an information sheet not only for gathering data and evaluating the pantry, but also to see how students can be helped beyond nutritional needs.   

“We don’t just give students food,” Martinez said. “We have families on campus that may not know how to apply for WIC or food stamps, so we don’t just want to put a BandAid on it. We want to grow with the population, so if we see there’s a need that’s not being met, we do our best to meet those needs.”

Students who can’t make it to the pantry during its hours or have reservations about receiving supplies can contact the pantry to discuss what options are available to them.  

“We want to make sure they [students] understand that they can reach out to us and that we can meet them when the food pantry is not officially open,” Graduate Student Intern for the Office of Student Case Management Robert Duncan said. “We try to reserve that for emergency situations but if someone says there’s no way they’re going if there are five or six people around, we’ll respect your right to confidentiality and meet you one on one.”

Located at Craddock Hall in Unit A1 in a dorm room converted into the office and storage space for the pantry, it can be “a harder place to find.” It’s an issue that’s being worked on with a banner being planned to better mark the location.

Since the pantry opened, a number of individuals and organizations have helped supply non-perishable goods and toiletries as well a feminine hygiene products. The pantry also has donation bins in the S.E.E.D.S. Office and on the second floor of the Halladay Student Services Building in the Dean of Students Office where anyone can donate food, hygiene products and school supplies.

“We’ve been very fortunate that the pantry has been run by various donations from staff, faculty, students, different organizations on campus,” Martinez said.

To become a volunteer or for more information and questions about the Lion Food Pantry, upcoming events and days it’s open contact the staff at [email protected], and on social media at tamuc_lionfoodpantry on Instagram and @LionsPantry on Twitter.