Raider Food Pantry helps combat food insecurity among students

Tylar O’Neal-White, an advocate and case manager in the Office of Student Advocacy and Wellness, oversees the Raider Food Pantry, which serves all students in need of emergency food assistance. (Photo by Chris Snyder)

According to an annual survey of 227 two- and four-year institutions across the United States, upwards of 39% of students experience food insecurity in a given 30-day period. This is a problem that has only been exacerbated by the pandemic.

In an effort to combat this problem, many universities in the United States, including Wright State University, operate food pantries to help make sure students in need will not go without.

The Raider Food Pantry opened in January 2011 and is located at 055 Student Union.

The service is open to any student enrolled in classes for the current term. Students enrolled for the Fall Semester can use the pantry during the summer time. The pantry also offers a free lunch program in which brown bags of food items are set on the table outside the pantry for students to pick up as they need them.

The pantry is open on Wednesdays from 9 to 11:30 a.m. and Fridays from 9 a.m.-4 p.m. either by appointment or walk-in. The pantry’s hours can vary from semester to semester depending on volunteers’ schedules.

Students can shop once every two weeks. But any student experiencing an emergency can call or text 937-260-0167.

Tylar O’Neal-White, an advocate and case manager in the Office of Student Advocacy and Wellness, has overseen the pantry since September 2020.

“It was very interesting coming in and taking over the food pantry at that time,” said O’Neal-White.

She said that because of COVID the pantry had to get creative.

“This is an office that still needed to be somewhat functional during that time,” she said. “We ended up doing things like giving out gift cards at first, because we didn’t know how safe it was to have students coming in and out (of the pantry).”

O’Neal-White said that the pantry eventually transitioned to in-person visits by appointment only and over the last year started allowing students to visit the pantry without an appointment.

“We still require masks because I want to know that if things change and we shut down again, we can continue to function,” she said.

The Raider Food Pantry holds two food drives in the spring and fall, but there are other ways that people can donate and contribute, including making purchases on the pantry’s Amazon Wishlist or by dropping off food donations at the pantry.

Donors can drop off unexpired, nonperishable donations at the Office of Student Advocacy and Wellness Monday through Friday between 8:30 a.m. and 5 p.m. donations can also be dropped off in a bin outside the Raider Food Pantry. A printable list of the most-needed items can be found on the pantry’s website.

O’Neal-White said the Raider Food Pantry is always in need of food donations as it serves 20 students in a day in the Fall and Spring Semesters. Breakfast items such as breakfast bars, instant oatmeal and cereal, condiments, microwaveable meals and vegetarian foods are in particularly high demand.

Perishable and frozen items can also be donated, but donors need to call the office and arrange a drop-off time so that the items can be stored properly.

Financial contributions are also needed and can be made through Wright State’s online giving website. Checks should be made payable to the Wright State University Foundation and mailed to the Wright State University Foundation at 3640 Colonel Glenn Hwy., Dayton, Ohio, 45435-0001. Donors should indicate on their check that the donation is for the Raider Food Pantry.

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