By Trinia Oliver
A few modulars away from the Bower School of Music & The Arts building is a small safe haven, nestled in the back of campus for students who are facing financial hardships while taking classes. The purpose of the FGCU Campus Food Pantry (FCFP) is to serve students who would otherwise have problems paying for food. Each visitor is provided 10 pounds of shelf-stable food, in addition to fresh bread, frozen meat, fresh produce and dairy products when available.
Food is fuel for us, at least according to common biology. At the FGCU Campus Food Pantry, trust is equally important. This is the modus operandi of the organization, which focuses heavily on the balance of trust with students who come for food.
Founded by Joanna Bradshaw, former First Lady of the University, FGCU’s Campus Food Pantry has been going for seven years strong. The FCFP is open weekdays, five hours a day. There is a large outdoor food pantry against the front wall of the Music Modular containing non-perishables for weekends and holidays. The only rule when taking food is to be mindful of others who come after, as the average amount of visitors is about 60 students per week.
The process is simple and easy; the FCFP is open to currently enrolled FGCU students with a valid Eagle ID.
“Students come in and fill out a Recipient Agreement Form, which states the definition of food insecurity,” Samantha Lloyd, the FGCU Campus Food Pantry’s Coordinator, said. “This means that they’re either missing meals, or their meals are incomplete and insufficient due to a financial circumstance beyond their control.”
The FCFP works on the honor system, meaning Lloyd takes a visitor’s word when asking for food assistance.
A visitor’s county of residence, household size, age demographic and whether or not they’ve visited before is recorded upon arrival.
Unlike a food bank, which does not serve the public directly and is more of a warehouse, the purpose of food pantries is to distribute the food that food banks accumulate. Pantries serve the public directly, and the FCFP is a partner agency of the Harry Chapin Food Bank of Southwest Florida.
The FGCU Campus Food Pantry also supplies students with volunteer opportunities. Shifts are split to where each volunteer receives two and a half hours. Volunteers can only sign up for one shift a week due to limited availability, according to Lloyd. The sign-up form can be found on the FGCU Campus Food Pantry webpage.