Cans of chicken noodle soup, boxes of instant rice and packages of gluten-free pasta line the shelves of Santa Fe College’s food pantry in the heart of its main campus.
SFC’s food pantry, Saints Food Share, encountered an increased demand for food from students since school started, Sarah Blanc, a SFC civic engagement and service specialist, said: The pantry is getting three times the number of normal requests for food ahead of its Hunger Action Month Food Drive.
Saints Food Share provides free baked goods and non-perishable groceries to students and employees who struggle with food insecurity. In the past year, the pantry gave out 11,000 pounds of food, said Blanc.
The pantry recently underwent renovations for cosmetic upgrades, new flooring and an expansion that were supported by the Mackenzie Scott Grant of the Santa Fe College Foundation and the Santa Fe College Rotaract Club.
Saints Food Share also has grab-and-go pantries at the Northwest Campus, Davis Center, Blount Center and Watson Center. The Northwest Campus pantry is the largest location, and Blanc wants to expand the pantries at the downtown and rural campuses.
This is the first year the pantry acquired funding directly from the college due to the needed renovations. Prior to that, the pantry had no budget and fully depended on food donations from food drives such as Halloween’s Boo at the Zoo and the annual food drive. After three years,the annual food drive is making its comeback.
Kerry Chancey and Sarah Stone, two SFC professors, founded the pantry in 2010 as a way to fight food insecurity and improve their community. Blanc now runs the pantry, where she’s witnessed a huge increase in food requests. In the first week of school alone, she had 33 requests for personalized grocery bags, she said.
“Due to the high volume of requests for food, the pantry is relying on the food drive to fulfill all requests, '' Chancey said. “There are certain items that are hard for me to buy. If those are donated by individual donors, it helps fill that need.”
Saints Food Share not only provides food, but increases student and teacher relationships in the community, Blanc said.
“Whenever an employee walks a student over to our building, just to have that personalized guidance to find a food pantry, it makes such an incredible difference,” Blanc said.
Tracey Reeves, an SFC student life director, said she recognizes the larger impact the pantry has on part of the college community.
“We surveyed our students and found that over 42% experienced food insecurity at least some of the time,” Reeves said.
Nolan Lane, a 20-year-old SFC junior, said knowing the food pantry is always available to him and the community makes him feel secure.
“I know that if I’m ever in a jam, I won’t have to worry about my next meal because it’ll be offered right there,” Lane said.
The Hunger Action Month Food Drive is from Sept. 12 to Sept. 16 and will have drop-off locations at the student affairs lobby, student life lobby, SF Police Department lobby and the library lobby.
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Claire Grunewald is a third-year journalism major and a metro reporter for The Alligator. In addition to writing, she enjoys going to the beach and discovering new music.