Open Pantry was created in 2017 by the Student Services and Relations Committee, within Macalester’s Student Government, in order to address food insecurity at Macalester. It is designed to be a supplemental source that helps students fulfill the disparity in obtaining some essentials throughout the academic year and during summers.
Anyone Macalester student who is experiencing financial, health-related, or other challenges that may impact their access to food and other essentials should consider Open Pantry a resource, whether their need is acute or chronic.
Clarification on Open Pantry Changes
Why did the Open Pantry pursue the partnership with Second Harvest Heartland?
Our partnership with Second Harvest Heartland (SHH) significantly lowers the cost of food in the pantry. During the 2020-21 academic year, we paid $1.08 per pound of food in the pantry, while we paid just $0.30 per pound of food for our first delivery from SHH. This increases Macalester’s ability to meet students’ needs.
In addition to lower costs, our partnership with SHH also provides the following benefits:
- Last year, food in the pantry was largely purchased from Wal-Mart due to low costs and the ability to do curbside pickup during the pandemic. Partnering with a nonprofit, even though there are data-reporting requirements, eliminates the need for us to purchase food and supplies for the pantry from a for-profit corporation whose values are not as well aligned with those of the college.
- SHH deliveries mean less time required by staff for purchasing and transporting food, leaving more time for other priorities.
- The partnership with SHH provides a wider variety of cultural foods at a lower cost than we were able to provide in the previous year.
How were students consulted in the process of planning for the partnership with SHH?
Campus Center Programs & Services began exploring the possibility of a partnership with SHH in Spring 2021 during Modules 3 and 4. The MCSG Student Services & Relations Committee (SSRC) was consulted and involved in the decision process. While this partnership and the resulting change in operating model would have impacts on availability, SSRC members agreed with Campus Center staff that it made sense to pursue the partnership. The SSRC also serves as an advisory board to the Open Pantry.
Why is the Pantry staffed when it is open?
Members of the Campus Center building manager staff support the operation of the pantry during open hours. The primary reason for this is the need to provide usage data to SHH so we can continue our relationship as an agency partner. In the 2020-21 academic year (when the pantry was entirely open and unstaffed), paper and online usage forms did not match up with the amount of food leaving the pantry (our estimate is that only 30-40% of users completed the form). The data collected is necessary as part of our partnership with SHH and is vital in demonstrating the need for the Open Pantry to campus and to ensure the program is funded for years to come.
What information is required on the form?
We do not ask for any identifying information on any forms related to the Open Pantry. We ask the following questions:
- Are you an on- or off-campus student?
- Do you have a meal plan?
- Is this your first visit this calendar year?
- Is this your first visit this month?
- Do you consider yourself to be low-income (using federal guidelines – making less than $2082/month)?
- How many pounds of food are you taking?
What training do the staff working in the Open Pantry receive?
Building manager staff working in the Open Pantry are trained in accordance with our agreement with SHH. Specifically, all staff working in the Open Pantry complete training in the following areas:
- Food safety and handling: Staff follow guidelines around safe handling of food (rotating stock, removing items that are expired, dented or otherwise damaged, etc.).
- Civil rights: The Open Pantry is a resource to the entire student body regardless of identities and beliefs. Training covers the following topics:
- Cultural competency to create an inclusive environment
- Definitions of discrimination and harassment
- Data security and data collection protocols
- Maintaining confidentiality
- How to field complaints
What if I’m not comfortable with going to the Open Pantry due to the new staffed model?
We understand that not everyone will be comfortable with utilizing the pantry if a student employee is present. In the coming weeks, an online ordering system will be rolled out that will allow students to request items for pickup at a future date/time. The pantry will be staffed daily to complete these orders, and students will be notified via email when their order is ready for pickup. Orders will only be identified by an order number, and the only personal information requested here will be a Macalester email address for communication regarding the order. In the meantime, if you need to access the pantry outside of operating hours, please email firstname.lastname@example.org and we will work with you to get you access to the pantry.
The Macalester Open Pantry exists to ensure all students have access to healthy food in a timely manner. We believe in the following principles that help center our work in supporting students:
- Food is a basic right for all individuals
- Everyone deserves access to healthy food, where they live, that they can get to
- Everyone deserves access to foods that are familiar to them and fit their cultural preferences, abilities, and dietary needs
- Working collaboratively with other campuses, community organizations, and across our campus drives our mutual success
- Operating in a way that supports equity, sustainability, and fairness to all builds a stronger campus community
This summer we worked hard to pursue a partnership with Second Harvest Heartland and were able to receive it. SHH is a local food bank that helps supply food pantries with food, personal care, and household items. Through this partnership, we are able to purchase pantry items at much more financially viable prices and secure larger amounts of food and a wider variety of products. Part of this partnership includes monthly statistic reporting that includes aggregate data about who we are serving and the pounds of food we are helping distribute.
Beginning Sunday, September 19, the pantry will begin operating on a staffed model to help meet ensure we are able to accurately report back our data. One of our trained student staff members will be working outside the pantry during this time, offering folks to use a tablet provided by us or a QR code linked to an intake form, required for each visit. This intake form does not ask for any identifying information – only what we need to report and a small number of general questions that help assess needs across campus. After you fill out the intake form, you will weigh your items on the scale in the pantry (in the bag is preferred), record the weight on the same form, and submit it.
This system is designed to enhance Open Pantry, the items we are able to offer, and overall increase student support. When not staffed during its open hours, the pantry will not be open. By mid-October at the very latest, we are hoping to have an online ordering system off the ground to help alleviate any concerns this may cause. Our online ordering system is at the end of its development phase. We are working to train our dedicated student staff and create a solid workflow before its official launch to make this transition as smooth as possible for everyone.
Fall Semester hours
- Sundays, 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
- Tuesdays, 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
- Thursdays, 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.
If you are experiencing food insecurity and are not able to make it to open hours or need food before the next time the Pantry is open, please email email@example.com and we will arrange an appointment for you to access the pantry as soon as possible.
That’s awesome! Thank you for your generosity. We accept both in-kind and monetary donations. If you are planning to donate physical items, please consider following what we consider the golden rule to be – if you wouldn’t pay for the items you are donating, please keep them at home.
Experiencing food insecurity in both acute and chronic circumstances is filled with shame and stigma. We want those who use Open Pantry to feel welcome and find what they need. Extremely niche, used, opened, and/or expired items can make folks feel shamed, and they end up taking up space on our shelves we don’t have to spare. Items that are opened, used, expired, or are lacking ingredient labels also violate health guidelines, and having them put on our shelves can compromise the status of our pantry.
We do not accept food, personal care, or household items that need refrigeration, are expired, are homemade, have damaged packaging (IE, dented, bloated, cans), baked goods, or pre-used items.
All donations must be entered into our inventory and checked over by one of our staff members to ensure they meet our standards. You can drop donations off at Campus Center Office 233, where we will begin that process.
You can also donate monetarily to our pantry which helps us expand our shopping list! Thank you for your generosity. Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, use of the pantry has skyrocketed and our goal is to support as many students as we possibly can.
Fall Semester Hours
Sunday: 12 p.m. – 4 p.m.
Tuesday: 10 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Thursday: 6 p.m. – 9 p.m.