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Saturday, May 18, 2024

Food pantry could help more than 1,000 students, plans to open in summer

Construction of a food pantry for students in need may begin this summer.

There are about 50,000 students at UF, and about 1,500 of them are without food, according to a 2013 GatorWell Healthy Gators survey. 

The survey prompted UF to open a food pantry on campus that will have emergency food and toiletries available to students, faculty and staff.

“I think it’s a great opportunity to reach some of these people who don’t have access to food that a lot of other people do,” said Allison Vitt, communications coordinator for the Office of Sustainability.

When more than 1,000 students were asked if they had received emergency food in the 12 months preceding the survey, more than 3 percent said they had. The survey’s large sample was translated to UF’s entire population. 

Tanja Philhower, the associate dean of students, said there will be two phases of construction that may start this summer, but a date has not been set.

In phase one, the food pantry will provide nonperishables and toiletries, such as toothpaste and feminine products.

By phase two, the renovated building will have refrigeration for fresh fruits and vegetables that will come from UF’s Student Agricultural Gardens and local partnerships. Anyone with a Gator 1 Card will be able to access the food pantry.

“We wanted to make the process as simple as possible and without the stigmatization of using a food pantry,” Philhower said. “We want to make it feel safe.”

[A version of this story ran on page 8 on 2/24/2015 under the headline “Food pantry plans for summer start”]

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