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Food pantry’s partnership expands service, number of employees and hours

Food pantry’s partnership expands service, number of employees and hours

Food pantry’s partnership expands service, number of employees and hours
April 25
18:34 2021

The university entered a partnership with Kroger Company, as part of the latter’s Zero Hunger Zero Waste foundation, for $250,000 in funding for the campus food pantry in exchange for naming rights.

The commitment was announced at an April 8 campus event, attended by President Neal Smatresk. Per the announced terms of the deal, the UNT Food Pantry’s name has been changed to “UNT Food Pantry presented by Kroger.”

The food pantry, located in the back of Crumley Hall, was founded in 2015 with the goal of addressing food insecurity and hunger experienced by students for various reasons. The COVID-19 pandemic temporarily halted the operation of the pantry in March 2020 but reopened in early July 2020 with curbside pickup.

Graduate Assistant Delaney Farris-Dyer said the added safety measure taken during the pandemic brought on challenges for both pantry workers and students.

“It has required a lot more patience and logistical effort on our side,” Farris-Dyer said. “Trying to move the pantry to a curbside pickup format was quite the undertaking. Students have to complete more paperwork on their side and conversely, we have to do more in terms of packing bags for students. I’d compare it to grocery store pickup. [Students] turn in an order and we create the bag for them.”

Caitlin Edgar, the coordinator for student intervention and assistance in the Division of Student Affairs (DSA), said she was grateful for the partnership and the resources Kroger would be providing.

“I’m also excited to see where this growth takes us and other doors it could open for us too,” Edgar said.

Discussions of the partnership began about nine months prior, according to Arigayle Skinner, Director of Development for Student Affairs.

“Representatives from UNT Advancement and UNT DSA met with Kroger representatives and pitched the idea that Kroger’s philanthropic priority of reducing hunger in their local communities matched with our need for support in our UNT Food Pantry on campus,” Skinner said.

Dean of Students Moe McGuiness said the partnership would benefit students “in so many ways.”

“It helps us purchase more food, including produce when we may be running low on donations,” McGuiness said. “It will help us with marketing to make sure our students know of the ability to use the pantry and it has helped us extend hours Monday to Sunday.”

The $250,000 funds will not be a flat transaction – the pantry will receive $50,000 each year for five years. The funding will employ two more student employees for inventory, volunteer management and online order system work, according to Edgar.

“Part of this new partnership is to ensure the pantry stays stocked with food items and it was made to help food-insecure students,” Edgar said. “Currently enrolled students can use the pantry and learn how to access us as a resource by visiting our website. We provide several different resources online, as well as information on additional food pantries in other local and nearby counties. Students can also request additional information on-campus resources when they place an order with us online and we follow-up by email.”

The hiring of two more employees allows the pantry to extend its hours, according to Farris-Dyer.

“Now we’re open two hours on Saturday and two on Sunday,” Farris-Dyer said. “It’s allowed us to be open in the evenings. Before I believe we were open until 5:00-6:00 p.m., now we’re able to stay until 7:00 p.m. So, we’re trying to really utilize that money to increase our accessibility.”

The food pantry still currently operates by appointment. Hours are listed below:

  • Monday: 3-5 p.m.
  • Tuesday: Contact 
  • Wednesday: 4-7 p.m.
  • Thursday 11 a.m.-1 p.m. and 4-7 p.m.
  • Friday: 11 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Saturday: 12-2 p.m.
  • Sunday: 12-2 p.m.

“I think Kroger is very passionate about this area,” Farris-Dyer said. “I would think our products would begin to change. You’re probably going to see more Kroger-brand products in the pantry, potentially. Hopefully, through that partnership, we’re able to adjust the products we serve students and better meet their needs.”

Featured Image: The UNT food pantry is located in the back of Crumley Hall and is currently pickup only. Image by John Anderson

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Will Tarpley

Will Tarpley

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