Food pantry receives increase in donations

About 600 students use pantry resources, services each year



Paulina Abustan, adviser and graduate student assistant for First Scholars and Office for Access and Opportunity, says many graduate students are living at the poverty level.

SHANEL HAYNES, Evergreen reporter

The WSU Office for Access and Opportunity food pantry received an influx of donations leading up to this holiday season.

Paulina Abustan, adviser and graduate student assistant for First Scholars and Office for Access and Opportunity, said there have been many organizations on and off campus that have recently donated to the food pantry.

“It’s the season of giving and people are feeling more generous, so we are so thankful for the donations so far,” she said.

The pantry has received donations such as toothbrushes, floss and toothpaste from Willamette Dental Group. The donations will go a long way for income-limited students, she said.

Abustan said that in the past month, the pantry also received donations from the Eggert Family Organic Farm at WSU. The farm donated fresh produce to the pantry such as carrots, potatoes and radishes, she said.

Whitman county has a high poverty rate, she said. A lot of graduate students do not make a lot of money and are actually living at the poverty level, she said.

“I have seen students that are parents and have multiple jobs, and it’s still not enough to help them feed their families,” she said.

Abustan said that many students visit the food pantry every year. About 600 students visit the pantry every year and the numbers continue to grow. The pantry will be completely stocked and within a week the shelves will be empty, which is a sign that the pantry is very much in use compared to earlier in the semester, she said.

Dissmores store manager Stephanie Rodeen said the grocery store plans to donate to the pantry during WSU Dad’s Weekend.

She said that Dissmores is asking for customers to donate $10 worth of food in the store or on its website. The store will then gather all of the food donations together to deliver to the food pantry. Dissmores will also add 10 percent of the food on top of whatever amount of donations the pantry receives from customers.

Abustan said that the holiday season can be a very sensitive time of year for students, and it can be especially hard for international students that are far away from their home countries.

“A lot of students are looking to create a meal here from our pantry, and we want to be able to help them do that,” she said.

Abustan said the pantry, which is located in the Lighty Student Services Building is open to both undergraduate and graduate students Monday through Friday. The pantry was created with the understanding that college is expensive and that students can benefit from having access to food, she said.

She said staff at the pantry wants students to know that they should feel no shame in taking food from the pantry. All students should have food this holiday season and there have been donations to help them do that.