ANISSA CHAK | DAILY EVERGREEN FILE
WSU plans to hire a full-time employee to manage the food pantry on the Pullman campus starting this fall.
Revenue generated from the $5 per semester Cougs Against Hunger Student Food Pantry Fee will support the new position, said Lucila Loera, WSU Office for Access and Opportunity executive director.
The WSU Board of Regents approved the fee during their two-day meeting May 6 and 7, according to a Daily Evergreen article. The fee goes into effect for full-time WSU Pullman undergraduate students starting fall semester of 2021.
“Thanks to the student advocacy on creating [and] coming up with the referendum as a mandatory fee, we can have some more permanent staffing and consistency in terms of what we’re able to provide,” Loera said.
The new employee’s salary, job title and requirements are still under discussion, she said. Funding to support the new position, staffing and food pantry depends on student enrollment numbers moving forward.
“WSU as a system is working towards creating a basic needs coordinator to help [address food insecurity] system-wide… so not just the Pullman campus,” Loera said. “Managing the Pullman campus pantry is just one part of a bigger effort.”
Hiring a full-time designated employee to manage the pantry will benefit students, said Jelani Christopher, ASWSU Issues and Forums chair and senior political science major.
“[Students will] know who to go to if they have questions,” Christopher said. “There will always be someone there.”
Christopher helped lead the efforts to initiate the $5 student fee addressing food insecurity among students. He said he worked alongside former ASWSU Senator Oluwanifemi “Nife” Shola-Dare to create the fee as ASWSU senators last school year.
“We decided on a student fee because we knew that the university hadn’t done what it needed to do, and so we thought, ‘we’ll just take it straight to the students and solve this problem the easiest way,’” he said.
Loera said she believes the pantry will remain fully stocked with the new student fee. The fee helps the pantry provide more perishable items and fresh foods to students.
Loera also anticipates the fee will extend work-study opportunities for students and provide additional AmeriCorps jobs. She said there are three student AmeriCorps workers among other WSU students helping run the pantry.
The pantry primarily operates through the help of volunteers, including from the WSU Center for Civic Engagement and Women*s Center, she said.
The pantry receives most donations from faculty members, parents, student organizations and community partnerships, Loera said.
Students interested in promoting the university’s food security efforts will have the opportunity to apply and serve on a student advisory board, she said. The application will be available at the start of the fall semester.
“[The advisory board] is going to be an important step in terms of having student perspectives and voices from now on when we talk about the fee and the best way to set up the pantry,” Loera said.
The food pantry is currently located in the Lighty Student Services Building, but is set to move to a centralized location in the Compton Union Building over the summer, she said.
The goal is to increase students’ access to the food pantry and create a “market experience,” Loera said. Relocating the pantry to the CUB will increase student engagement and pantry use.
Considerations to move the pantry to the ground level of the CUB are underway, Christopher said. He believes the move will reduce the stigma associated with using food pantry services.
“It’s going to be in a neutral area where everyone knows no matter who they are at WSU, they can use it,” Christopher said.