Choosing the perfect place to attend college can be a tough decision.
The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is stepping into the food pantry space with the establishment of its Campus Cupboard. The Campus Cupboard is a resource for undergraduate and graduate students who require short-term assistance meeting their food needs. Nationally, universities are beginning to realize that food security is becoming a prominent concern for students. UL Lafayette recognized that in order for their students to succeed, this was a concern that needed to be addressed on campus.
The planning for Campus Cupboard began at the end of 2017. Dr. Pearson Cross, associate dean of the College of Liberal Arts, chairs the committee that established the Campus Cupboard. Cross brought together a group of people that could help make this idea a reality. Their team met monthly to plan out important aspects of the Campus Cupboard such as its location and logistics of how the facility would run its daily operations. With support from other departments on campus, the committee was able to solidify a location at the UL Lafayette Intensive English Building.
Cross and his committee also traveled to other universities in Louisiana to see how their food pantries were run and discovered that there was an association for universities that have food pantries. To conclude their research, Cross and his team conducted an informal survey of over 1,000 UL Lafayette students. “We found that around 37% of UL Lafayette students report that they are food insecure either occasionally or frequently,” said Cross. Through this survey, their team realized the significance of this issue. They partnered with other organizations in the community such as Second Harvest Food Bank, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, Sodexo and United Way of Acadiana for assistance. After months of hard work, the Campus Cupboard opened in November 2018 and held its official grand opening on Thursday, April 11, 2019.
Trey Delcambre is the graduate student who runs the daily operations of the Campus Cupboard. He initially heard about the project through a friend and knew that it was something he wanted to be a part of. “An opportunity to give back to students seemed like a really worthy cause,” said Delcambre. Delcambre’s main responsibilities are to run the Campus Cupboard during its operating hours while also organizing the contents of the pantry. After a few months of being open, he noticed a surprising trend. Some of their most popular items began to be non-food related. “Items like toilet paper, paper towels and hygiene products were items that went very quickly,” said Delcambre.
Sarah Smith is someone who also knows a lot about the inner workings of the Campus Cupboard. She is a doctoral student who volunteers with the Campus Cupboard in her free time. Like Delcambre, after finding out about the food pantry, she knew that she wanted to be part of it. One thing that she loves is that the food pantry gives people the option to freely choose items depending on their situation. “It’s great that people get to pick what they need based on what they already have or what their equipment is at home,” said Smith.
The Campus Cupboard is open on Tuesdays from 2:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. For those looking to make a monetary or physical donation to the Campus Cupboard, contact Dr. Pearson Cross at email@example.com for more information. Even though the Campus Cupboard is just getting started, it is clear that it has made a significant impact on UL Lafayette’s campus.
Photo: Trey Delcambre and Sarah Smith show off the Campus Cupboard.