Now that in-person classes have been cancelled, Beall Hall is not housing students, but instead approximately 1,000 pounds of donated food for those struggling with food insecurity during the coronavirus pandemic.
The Campus Food Pantry, which used to be held in the Women’s Center, received food donations from Trader Joe’s throughout each week when the university was open. Because the store still has food to donate, the Women’s Center staff and volunteers from Campus Kitchen have continued the pickups throughout the week and are now putting the food toward the Beall Hall food pantry.
Because Trader Joe’s cannot put out food that is close to the sell by date, the pantry is stocked with meats, bread, fresh fruits and vegetables, and egg cartons with eleven eggs — if one egg breaks the whole carton must be discarded.
With a group of about 35 each week, pantry volunteers have taken precautions to distribute the food in the safest and most efficient manner. They are wearing gloves, both when handling food and distributing it, and masks. Social distancing is also in place, said Cassandra Pegg-Kirby, Women’s Center director.
“We have lines set up so when people come in, they are six feet apart. One of us will take them through the line, and then once that person finishes up, we can start again,” Pegg-Kirby said. “People do have to wait, but we make sure everyone is six feet apart.”
Most of the people coming through the line are Kent State students, but faculty and community members also attend. Each person leaves with about 25–30 pounds of food packed in a box or bag.
“People are so gracious and appreciative, and I would guess half of them are people that we see regularly,” Pegg-Kirby said. “The other half is probably people who heard about it and are coming for the first time.”
If there is food left over after Friday, it is given to community agencies like Kent Social Services, Kentway Apartments or the Center of Hope.
The food pantry is open Fridays from 1–4 p.m. at the Beall Hall loading dock. Face coverings are encouraged.
Holly Liptak covers crisis, recovery, hunger and help. Contact her at email@example.com.