SALT LAKE CITY — With the motto "Study, don't starve," student volunteers running the Feed U Pantry kicked off their 2018 efforts to fight food insecurity on the University of Utah campus this week.
The food pantry — open to all faculty, staff and students — unveiled several initiatives at its new location in the basement of the Student Union, where volunteers on Thursday put together hygiene kits that will be available at student resource offices around campus.
"In 2017, Feed U served over 500 University of Utah members and their families," said Nick Knight, Feed U Pantry's executive director. "Our annual numbers have increased each year as people learn about Feed U and the resources it provides. We expect this number to continue to rise in 2018."
The pantry opened in 2014 in the U.'s campus store. It recently moved into the Union building because it was growing and running out of space, Knight said.
”(The pantry) has gone from working out of — literally — a closet to what it is now," Knight said. The senior studying kinesiology has been working with the pantry for 2 1/2 years. The pantry now has five shelves packed with nonperishable goods as well as two refrigerated shelves for dairy products.
Feed U Pantry tries to keep enough stock to maintain at least month's worth of food assuming a high volume of clients, according to Knight. On average, a client walks out with 10 pounds of food, which is collected through donations.
"We are willing to accept any and all help offered to us, no matter the amount," Knight said.
Thursday's event also included information on coupons, budgeting and tax preparation assistance from the Personal Money Management Center; introduced the "Hook a Baby Up Drive," an initiative to provide diapers, food, formula and other baby supplies to those in need; and announced the "To-Go" program where patrons can pick up nonperishable goods after hours at the Student Union front desk.
The purpose of Thursday's event was to let students know about the services available to them, Knight said.
Feed U Pantry sets a goal to be open weekdays, from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Knight said, admitting that the goal is hard to meet because of a shortage of volunteers and the site was open just two days last week.
"We are currently recruiting volunteers," Knight said. "We had a pool of 18 volunteers that staffed the pantry last semester."
Students can apply for help or volunteer at FeedU.Utah.edu.