Associate Vice Chancellor Dr. Sylvia Carey-Butler is teaming up with LGBTQ Resource Center Director, Liz Cannon to bring a food delivery service and Supplies Closet for students in need to the UW Oshkosh campus for the first time.
The first food delivery pick up is September 14 located in the LGBTQ office, students must sign up by September 7 online at the Academic Support of Inclusive Excellence or the LGBTQ website by filling out a form using their student ID number.
According to Carey-Butler, the program is aimed toward helping students who are struggling financially.
“The goal of the pantry is really to radicate to the best of our ability food and security on campus,” Carey-Butler said.
Carey-Butler said it was time to start thinking about a program to help offset some of these issues when she was presented with a survey showing students who were in need of food.
“When I first got to UWO, there was a faculty member, Paul Van Auken who had a student who needed to do a student project and so he sent the student over to me,” Carey-Butler said. “The student did a survey of students on campus and found there are students at UWO that were actually hungry.
“I happened to be, at that time, just rotating on the board of the Oshkosh Area Community Pantry, I have subsequently become the board chair, and wanted to see if it was possible to have some deliveries here,” Carey-Butler said. “We knew the scale of the program couldn’t be large just because they could only do 20 students. So I partnered with Dr. Cannon, and said ‘how can we do this’? She is well aware of the populations she serves, that are also for a lot of reasons, finding themselves needing food.”
Cannon said she also noticed a need on campus for access to food before speaking with Dr. Carey-Butler.
“My interest really peaked because I saw it in my population, and then I was doing a field trip with my interns to UW Green Bay where I noticed they had a food pantry on campus,” Cannon said. “I got excited and came to talk to Sylvia who was already thinking about how to address the issue on our campus.”
Three years ago, UWO football head coach Pat Cerroni, Dr. Sylvia Carey-Butler and Director of the OACP Terri Green met and launched a campus local food pantry.
According to Carey-Butler, this will be the first year that UWO will not have this service.
“The challenge was not a lot of students from campus were using the pantry, but it was the way that outside folks were using the pantry,” Carey-Butler said. “We can no longer do this event on campus, it has nothing to do with the camus, Feeding America began talking about the number of mobile food pantries that exist and said they can go to other pantries in the community.”
Carey-Butler and Green decided perhaps the best way to address the issue, would be not to create an on-site pantry, but rather a food delivery system.
“Part of the reason why the pantry agreed to do this was so students would know that this service is available,” Carey-Butler said.
According to Carey-Butler, students will only be able to receive four deliveries per year.
“They [The Oshkosh Area Food Pantry] are going to put informational sheets in the boxes so that students can learn more about what’s available if they were to go to the pantry.” Carey-Butler said.
Some pantries can provide the produce, and others can only provide the dry goods. According to Carey-Butler, the delivery service will provide 20 UWO students with a mixture of both, with the exception of meat.
“The highest number of students we’ve had take advantage of this program was 17, and we can help 20 students.” Carey-Butler said.
Carey-Butler said the Center for Equity and Diversity is trying to make the first step to reach out to students who might be embarrassed to reach out for help.
“There is no way for us to really quantify the number of students in need, when you have a need you’re not going to necessarily talk about it and that’s part of the reason we put it on Titan Vision, we put it on our websites, we have posters in residence halls,” Carey-Butler said.
According to Carey-Butler, Oshkosh Student Association is also looking into how the campus can help provide food to students in need.
“We are also trying to work together with OSA, who has also expressed interest in starting a pantry, to meet some of the needs that we just don’t talk enough about on campus outside of academic support.” Carey-Butler said.
Vice Speaker of OSA Trevor Wolzoski, said he thinks the program is a great idea.
“This Food Delivery Service would be a huge help for a lot of different students who are either struggling off campus or can’t afford food,” Wolzoski said.
In addition to the food delivery system, Cannon said students can sign up to receive household items as well.
“Located on the lower level of the Center for Equity and Diversity, is a Supplies Closet,” Cannon said. We have all sorts of things for everyday use, because a lot of wonderful dentists in the area have donated toothbrushes, dental floss, toothpaste. We also have shampoo, soap and laundry detergent, feminine needs.”
Students can sign up for the Supplies Closet and the food delivery program online at both the Academic Support of Inclusive Excellence website and the LGBTQ website.
“We did a drive for items at the end of december and we started trying to get it out there in April that this service exists,” Cannon said. “It’s a brand new program. There’s a form on our website where they can fill out and specifically request items, or they can come and they can pick out what they want.”
Cannon said students struggle academically for many reasons, but they don’t want hunger and access to supplies to be one of them.
“Between the Supplies Closet, and the food delivery program, it’s not perfect but it does fill the gap for students who are struggling financially.” Canon said.
Students can view future dates for registration and food delivery pick up at the Academic Support of Inclusive Excellence and the LGBTQ website.