Originally published on The Seattle Collegian
When money is tight, we tend to give up lots of things. I used to be able to afford rice and rolled oats for most of my meals, but lately, I shifted to making bread from scratch and replacing it in my current diet. Flour is cheaper than both carbs and I have learned to bake good bread and enjoy doing it, so there is some fun in the process. However, having only bread as a base can be miserable; it kills my appetite. That’s when I decided to order from the food pantry and picked it up at Seattle Central College. IT WAS FREE and was a game-changer; something I really appreciate and wish I had gotten earlier. In this post, I’ll be sharing my food pantry experience overall, what supplies I got, useful insights from Zachary, SCC’s food pantry manager, and how to get the pantry for yourself.
My food pantry experience and what I got
The process of ordering and picking up the food was quite smooth. I filled out the supplies form, which there is a limitation for in each category. Then I was informed of the date, time, location, and Zach’s contact information for the pickup. (I’ll include all details of the process at the end of the post.) Every item I ordered (as shown in the picture above) fit in one paper bag, making it easy to carry while commuting back to my apartment. Having a backpack when you go for the pickup is a good idea, especially if you use public transportation. You can transfer heavy stuff into your backpack and only hand-carry lighter items. The image below is the list of stuff I got.
I can’t tell you enough how happy I was to get some rice even though it was just one pound. It was an amazing gift! Those snacks were irresistible; I almost finished them in one day. The household and stationery stuff saves me much money and will last for a while. The entire list of items would cost $30 – $40 if I had to buy them from a store. However, I do hope to get more fresh fruits and vegetables because the provided amount was not enough for the entire week and they have always been necessary for everybody’s diet and immune system, especially considering we are living through the pandemic.
The insights from the pantry manager, Zachary
Realizing how much the food pantry has helped me, I reached out to Zachary to find out more about what the pantry means to other students, uncover things he wants to improve, and whether or not we can rely on it moving forward.
Question: How important is the food pantry for students in your opinions?
Zach: “I think that the food pantry is really important for students. Prior to the start of the pandemic, national reports suggested that nearly half of all college students were experiencing food insecurity. Compounded with the fact that students existed in a silo of ineligibility for public programs when lots of entry-level jobs were being lost, students need an extra hand in securing food and other daily necessities.”
Question: Where do these foods and supplies come from?
Zach: “The food pantry operates because of a generous donation to the Seattle Colleges Foundation. A private donor is single-handedly responsible for all of the food that has been handed out during the stay-at-home orders. Prior to the pandemic, we were also getting food from Jewish Family Services up the street – students can still get food there, we just don’t exchange it anymore.”
Question: What are your major concerns/issues about food pantry services that you would like to see improved?
Zach: “Realistically, while [Coronavirus] cases are continuing to rise, the best move the food pantry can make is to transition to a gift card model once our funds allow us to. This gives students the maximum amount of autonomy in choosing the food they get and eliminates contact.”
Question: Can students always rely on the food pantry at all times (crisis or no crisis)? Will it ever run out of food?
Zach: “Absolutely. For the foreseeable future, students are able to access the food pantry on Wednesdays from 10 AM to 4 PM. Folks should keep their eyes peeled for our transition into a gift card model.”
How to get the pantry yourself?
One note to keep in mind: Food items are available every week, meaning you can pick it up once a week. Although you can place an order for other supplies on the form, e.g. household and stationery, their availability is based on the donations.
Here are the steps to order the SCC food supplies:
Step 1 – Use this form to place an order and submit by Sunday night of the week.
Step 2 – You will receive a confirmation email of your order.
Step 3 – On Wednesday, the following week, between 1 – 4 pm., go pick up the supplies at SCC at the Harvard Entrance located on Harvard Ave and Olive St.
Step 4 – When you arrive at the pick-up location, call Zach at 206-934-4007. He will ask for your student ID number and deliver all your items in a large paper bag.
If you live outside of Seattle, specifically in South King County, check out Morgan’s post, where she includes links to the pantry services local to that area.
Hearing helpful information from the pantry manager himself, I feel relieved and more secure that I’ll continue to have access to food and supplies while I’m struggling financially. I think it’s a valuable service that I’m grateful for because food is one of the basic needs that keeps us alive and functioning effectively. No one deserves to starve. Therefore, take advantage of this service, share this post with your friends, share in the comments section if you know of other pantry services, and finally, donate when you can. Here is the list of food pantries in Washington state where you can do so.