Pete's Pantry, OSU Institute of Technology's campus food pantry has expanded its services and resources to help combat food insecurity and promote student success.
The campus initiative provides food, clothing, hygiene products, laundry soap and home goods to students free of charge.
In 2021, Pete's Pantry had 30 volunteers dedicate their time to serve OSUIT's campus community with resources necessary to offset the rising cost of a college education. There were over 1,200 visits, 8,600 lbs of food distributed, 1,000 clothing items provided, 60 Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) applications processed and two subsidized childcare applications approved.
While visiting Pete's Pantry, students are able to apply for SNAP benefits, providing low- to no-income students the opportunity to purchase food with an electronic benefits card at authorized retail stores and markets.
Beth Rogers, social services liaison and Service Learning Committee co-chair at OSUIT, has been dedicating her time to Pete's Pantry and plays an intricate role in its success.
"It's all 100% free, and we always have plenty of food," said Rogers. "I let students know that coming to college is like saving to go on vacation; you save and save and finally have enough to go, but you don't have enough saved to buy food once you get there. College is your vacation, and Pete's Pantry is your resource for food and clothing. You sacrificed a lot to get here; let us make sure you don’t have to worry about food."
Just as the need has increased since its start in 2019, so has the inventory. Thanks to partnerships with the Community Food Bank of Eastern Oklahoma and Khan Ohana, there is almost a never-ending supply. This collaboration offers a more expansive variety of products and fresh groceries.
As an added resource, the pantry offers assistance in submitting childcare assistance applications to help offset an ongoing need for single parents or low-income families that attend classes full-time.
"I have been in similar situations of need, and having someone offer help was my way out," said Rogers. "There is help out there, and we just need to make sure everyone knows that and has access to those services available."
Volunteers are always needed to continue expanding services and meet the growing demand for assistance. Faculty, staff and students can sign up to be a volunteer. Opportunities include organizing the pantry, unloading pallets, checking expiration dates, cleaning, sorting and hanging clothing items and serving students who visit the pantry. Aside from volunteers, there is also a need for retail clothing racks to store clothing donations.
In an effort to reach more students, Pete’s Pantry will have a table at OSUIT’s Career Fair March 8. There are also plans in March to hold an informational meet and greet with the hope of adding SoonerCare benefits to its list of services provided.
The food bank is also available to students that attend Green Country Technology Center and the College of Muscogee Nation.
Pete's Pantry is located in the Noble Center for Advancing Technology, Suite 100. It is open Monday and Wednesday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Tuesday, Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.
If you are a student in need of additional resources to assist in your success, please visit www.okdhslive.org for eligibility information or to apply online.
For more information about Pete's Pantry, donations or volunteer opportunities, please contact the Service Learning Committee co-chairs, Beth Rogers at firstname.lastname@example.org or Angie Asmussen at email@example.com.