Written and shot by Hallie Jacobs
The holiday season is approaching fast, and with it comes more awareness about food insecurity.
Nonetheless, Paula Umaña, the Director of Institutional Transformation at The Hope Center says that, “hunger has no season.”
“What The Hope Center is doing is identifying the availability of support that can help students secure their basic needs so they can better learn and can succeed at graduating and obtaining their credentials for their degree in a dignifying way,” said Umaña.
Temple University’s Cherry Pantry is part of this support system. They supply nutritious food to college students in need.
The Program Coordinator for the Dean of Students Office, Ayala Gedeon, explained how the pantry is helping students prepare for fall break.
“Typically, when a student walks in, they’re greeted, of course, and they receive 16 points to accumulate. And each item around the Cherry Pantry is on different point levels,” Gedeon stated. “So instead of the 16, they’re offered 32 [points], and we make sure we have those, we try to keep the shelves stocked for the increased amount of points, and so that they’ll be ready for the break.”
A recent 2020 report from The Hope Center states that one in four Temple students are food insecure.
The Cherry Pantry also says they have seen an increase of students in need. Both organizations believe this is due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
However, Temple community members are doubling their efforts to help the Cherry Pantry.
“With COVID we briefly removed it from the desk. But as of recent with this fall semester, we decided to reintroduce our donation bin to the main Help Desk,” says Emily Schiller, the Circulation and One-Stop Assistance Desk Supervisor at the Charles Library.
“Especially with the holidays coming, we thought it would be a great time to bring it back,” she noted.
Students can also help. Oumar Traore, a sophomore at Temple University, volunteers his time at the Cherry Pantry and says it is a great way to give back to the community.
“They can come here and get the food that they need to, you know, stay full and not be hungry and there’s also, like, hygiene,” Traore said.
“There’s also, like, tons of other important stuff here that students can come and grab to you know, help make their life easier and, you know, stay healthy and stay clean and, you know, stay fit,” Traore added.
The Cherry Pantry hires new volunteers at the start of each semester. For any student interested in joining, visit @tucherrypantry on Instagram and fill out the application under the link.
Another easy option for students is to double-check your dorm or apartment for any unused food items. Drop the items off at the Cherry Pantry or donate them to other student-run food drives.
The Cherry Pantry is located in the Student Center Room 224A. It is open Tuesdays and Thursdays from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. and Wednesdays from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.
If you or someone you know are food insecure, please visit these resources around Temple University: