Pantry to open for needy students

Alyssa Coleman, News Editor

Students in need are to have access to food and other necessities as a Pitt-Johnstown food pantry is to be introduced soon.

Student government Presidential Candidate Devin Seiger said the food pantry, named PJ Provides, will benefit students on campus who are food-insecure.

“These students can fill out a form and visit the pantry twice a month and be able to get a grocery bag full of items they may need,” he said.  

“There will be someone in charge of keeping track of who comes in each month, that way only the students who are in need will be receiving the items.”

Seiger said students will be able to donate food and hygiene items this week in exchange for deductions on their parking fines.

A similar event was held last semester when students were able to donate spaghetti and sauce to benefit the St. Vincent de Paul Family Kitchen in the city.

Student government senator Sophia Lewis said she got the idea for PJ Provides when she became aware of food insecurity on college campuses.

“Once I did some research and heard testaments from other universities about how helpful it was to their students, I became determined to establish a food pantry here,” she said.

Lewis also said the price list for items is still in negotiation.

“It was easier last semester because we were only accepting two kinds of items.  

“Now, with accepting a wider range of items that all vary in pricing, we are trying to formulate the most effective price list so we can get sizeable donations and students can get a discount on their fines.”

Lewis said she is looking for nonperishable food items such as canned goods, food mixes and easy-to-make food options, as well as toiletries such as toothpaste, tampons and shampoo.

“Our focus is to have nutritional, shelf-stable food available for students that can easily be made with the barest of kitchen items,” she said. 

Lewis said that Health and Counseling Executive Director Shelley Peruso had said at a few student government meetings that she has students in the counseling office who are experiencing stress from not eating enough food.

Seiger said the plan is to keep the food pantry open every semester, every year, and for it to be open on certain days of the week.

“For now, it will be run out of (Student Affairs employee) John Ziats’ office,” Seiger said.

“Next semester, (it will) be moved into a more permanent location in the Student Union.”

Lewis said she feels the program will be successful.

“I have every reason to believe this program will be successful and continue to grow as the years go on,” she said. 

“There is a lot of support from administrators who feel very strongly about the need and importance of this program.

“I am also confident that we will have a steady amount of student volunteers to help run it.”