The Student Fee Committee has officially approved a building fund that will expand the space available to the Portland State Food Pantry. This new space is anticipated to boost the facility’s performance and capacity to serve students.
Trenna Wilson, the general manager of the pantry, said that this upgrade has been on the minds of staff and volunteers for years.
“Students put finding a new space on our strategic plan years ago… it’s amazing that it isn’t going to be years and years [more],” she said.
This news came at just the right time, as the pantry has faced record-breaking demand in recent months. In prior years, the largest percentage of PSU students that the pantry served was 6.8% over the entire academic year. Last month, the pantry already crossed the 10% threshold for the current year. This means roughly one in 10 students have been served by the pantry this year, with the number of students served steadily climbing each term.
In the fall, the pantry served an average of 89 students per day. During winter term, they served an average of 114. This spring term, they’re currently averaging 120 students per day.
“We find this important… because it normalizes use of the pantry and it reduces stigma,” Wilson said.
The new plans are to have the entire suite remodeled, with the existing food pantry expanded out to the side. The Quiet Prayer and Meditation Lounge, adjacent to the pantry, will be moved down the hall, closer to the Veterans Resource Center. This will change how the pantry operates, making it more accessible, efficient and comprehensive in how it serves patrons, according to Wilson. The Student Fee Committee, responsible for allocating funds to the expansion, hopes for the project to be completed by the end of 2023.
The heightened demand has increased the pantry’s existing need for student volunteers. Those who wish to help out can apply on the pantry’s website at https://psufp.com/volunteer. The facility is also hiring for the Manager of Outreach position, at https://psufp.com/student-jobs, a role responsible for expanding visibility among the PSU community.