The once empty CC-212 has transformed into Lancer Pantry, crowded with bread loaves, canned food, pre-packaged lunches, and fruits. As the semester went by, Lancer Pantry has added more to their shelves and is serving 1,800 to 2,000 pounds of food per week, thanks to the numerous donors who’ve been supporting PCC’s newest student service all semester.
Starting June 12, Lancer Pantry will become a member of the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank (LA-RFB), which will help the team stabilize their inventory as well as maintain their essential food donation income.
“[LA-RFB] will provide about 80 percent of the items that we need, and we would rely on other [sources of] donations for about 20 percent of the items that we can’t get there for the students,” college assistant Lisa Nelson explained.
Along with product aid, a $3,000 donation from PCC’s Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) will be spent on a refrigerator for Lancer Pantry to serve more perishable food, like eggs, cheese, milk, fruits and vegetables. Additionally, from the campus food drive back in April, the United States Postal Service donated 20 large, heavy cases of canned food.
The Lancer Pantry staff now provides blue reusable bags for students, which came from the Pasadena Service Federal Credit Union to support Lancer Pantry’s sustainability.
Many contributions also came from campus staff and academic departments. Recently, the campus theater arts department asked the audience to donate canned foods and monetary donation in lieu of paying for admission tickets on their pre-opening night of their show, She Kills Monsters, organized by professor William Hickman.
The social science department faculty also raised over $100 for Lancer Pantry during their annual faculty gathering. The event was led by professor Susie Ling and her colleagues by passing around a bucket for staff to give donations.
According to Lancer Pantry’s student worker Nick Tobin, Lancer Pantry developed dramatically in both food donations and servings. Lancer Pantry started with serving zero students the first week they opened in winter, then slowly gathered a crowd of about 50 students per week in the beginning of spring 2017. Now, Lancer Pantry serves about 200 students per week.
“In our busiest week, which was last week, we served 216 students,” Tobin said. “Look back at everything we have achieved in these 16 weeks [this] semester and six weeks of winter intersession, I wouldn’t be surprised if we hit the mark of 300 [students per week] in the upcoming fall [semester].”
Though popularity is growing, Lancer Pantry will continue promoting itself to students. After being featured on Pasadena Now in April, Lancer Pantry’s staff is working with the Dean of Visual Arts and Media Studies Joseph Futtner to organize a competition in which students will redesign the Lancer Pantry poster and its logo.
The team hopes that with a more direct and clear design for its poster, Lancer Pantry will reach out to even more students on campus.
“‘Pantry’ is a term that is not commonly used by everyone,” Associate Dean of Special Services Ketmani Kouanchao explained on why students may still not know what Lancer Pantry is. “We are also [working on being] more vocal in many of our school’s students’ clubs.”
Bigger donations also comes with greater need for helping hands. According to Tobin, the workload at Lancer Pantry is supposed to be for five people minimum, with just a total of 43 operating hours weekly. The team received help from volunteers at peak hours, and they plan to offer more volunteer hours for clubs on campus. Volunteers will help with organizing and distributing the food at Lancer Pantry.
“43 hours might sound like a lot,” Tobin said. “But it’s really nothing when you consider the scope of the program and what it takes to run it.”
Along with recruiting volunteers, Lancer Pantry’s staff is currently working on a manual guide for new employees on all the procedures that the Lancer Pantry requires, such as how to organize the stockroom.
“Food insecurity is a serious issue on this campus, and it has affected more than a few of us. If you go hungry, you can’t focus on your studying,” Tobin said. “And if you can’t focus on your studying, you can’t be successful.”
Students will still have access to Lancer Pantry during the summer intersession. Starting June 26, Lancer Pantry will be open Mondays 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., Thursday 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m.
The same distribution policy will be applied for summer term: Students may visit up to two times per week, and select only eight items per visit. Donations are always greatly appreciated. For any questions or concerns about Lancer Pantry, contact firstname.lastname@example.org or call (626)-585-7254.
This story has been updated. The original article incorrectly referred to the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank as a national food bank.