In the fall of 2016, students in an English 102 class researched food insecurity across the United States, and decided it was important to assess the epidemic at the Phoenix College campus. The University of Wisconsin - Madison HOPE Institute surveyed Phoenix College students and found that 64 percent of students could not afford balanced meals. The study also revealed that 53 percent of students could not afford three meals a day, and this is a continuing trend across college campuses nationwide.
Call To Action
These results inspired professors Eric Burge and Bob Gibney to sponsor a student club whose mission was to feed hungry students. The next semester, students from the Honors course developed a constitution and club charter for the PC Pantry Club with the help of Student Life & Leadership. In the beginning, the Club solicited donations of noodle soup, granola bars and water bottles, which were assembled as brown bag lunches, and given away to students needing an emergency lunch solution.
Very quickly, more students and faculty joined the cause; hosting noodle drives and collecting thousands of cup-o-noodles. As enthusiasm grew, a Food Pantry advisory council was formed. The council discussed how to sustain the Pantry, track impact, and how to provide more nutritious food offerings.
A Partnership Is Born
A partnership with St. Mary's Food Bank was developed, which resulted in thousands of pounds of food being distributed at the Phoenix College campus monthly. Soon, the food distributions became more frequent, and the Food Pantry expanded, serving hundreds of students and families.
Last year, the Pantry team converted a storage space in the back of the Student Union into a full-fledged food pantry. With the help of St. Mary's Food Bank, Phoenix College became an official certified partner with the Food Bank and with that came the ability to shop for food items at St. Mary's to stock the PC Pantry shelves.
In September 2018, Phoenix College hosted the official PC Food Pantry Grand Opening and invited the entire campus to celebrate. The Pantry now serves hundreds of students weekly, and is having a significant impact on addressing food insecurity at the Phoenix College campus.
“Our goal is to support PC students with food insecurities by providing them with nutritious supplemental food (lunches and weekend food), so they can focus on school – not hunger,” said PC president Dr. Larry Johnson.
Joining Together To Defeat Hunger
For the first time last November, a friends-giving celebration was hosted with food donated by Albertsons and Safeway. The College plans to make this an annual tradition of fellowship and support for PC students.
To further raise awareness across campus, the Student Life and Leadership department conducted a "Defeat Hunger Games Food Drive," with teams created across campus to collect food for the pantry. In less than four weeks, the campus community collected more than 4,000 food and toiletry items.
If you would like to support the PC Food Pantry, call 602.285.7667, or visit phoenixcollege.edu/waystogive.