IOWA CITY, IOWA (November 20, 2020) — Ashley Johnson of Davenport, Iowa (52804), is one of eight University of Iowa students on the executive committee for the Food Pantry at Iowa, a student-run organization whose mission is to provide nutritious food and necessities for University of Iowa students, faculty, and staff in need, and to fight food-insecurity through education and advocacy.
COVID-19 has had an impact on many community members at the University of Iowa. Student leaders for Food Pantry at Iowa have witnessed this firsthand, with a higher demand for food-pantry services since its opening in the Fall 2016 semester.
Johnson, who is currently serving as associate director for the Food Pantry, and the other members of the executive committee have led an effort that has more than doubled the services to meet the needs of the campus community during these unprecedented times.
Thus far in 2020, more than 400 clients have been served and more than 39,000 pounds of food has been distributed. Both figures represent significant year-over-year growth for the organization.
On average, the Food Pantry at Iowa has served three times more clients and has distributed five times more food this fall than it was at the same time a year ago.
"Building a budget for the food pantry with the $28,000 allocated from UISG, calculating the numbers of expenses and donations, getting reusable bags as a fundraiser for the team to gain more funds, working with East and West side managers to ensure they are keeping within the budget each week for groceries, making sure we are staying within budget, and keeping track of all receipts. . . these are the great experiences I get to take from this truly rewarding experience," says Johnson, a fourth-year student at Iowa who is majoring in Psychology (Occupational Therapy track) and has a certificate in Public Health.
Sarah Henry serves as the advisor to the Food Pantry at Iowa. She has been impressed by organization's ability to rise up to meet the challenges presented by the pandemic and the derecho that struck the state of Iowa in August.
"The Food Pantry at Iowa team has shown incredible dedication to helping our community since they started their terms at the beginning of the year. They've had an unpredictable year of challenges and have adapted to overcome every one and continue providing food to students, faculty, and staff," says Henry.
"Their year has been defined by unprecedented challenges, and they have risen to the occasion every time, even while being full-time students and leaders in other areas and organizations across campus."
The Food Pantry at Iowa started after a group of University of Iowa students saw a pressing issue: Peers at Iowa were going hungry, unable to pay for the necessities to survive and to attend college at the same time. In response to this, a group of passionate and motivated undergraduate students banded together to form The Food Pantry Steering Committee, which laid the groundwork for establishing the Food Pantry at Iowa.
The steering committee began by collecting basic statistics on food-insecurity at Iowa, finding a place to house the food pantry, garnering funding and support, and more. After a year of hard work and persistence, The Food Pantry at Iowa was successfully established at the Iowa Memorial Union. The Food Pantry at Iowa was first opened to Iowa students, faculty, and staff at the beginning of the fall semester of the 2016-17 academic year.
Today, the Food Pantry at Iowa operates out of two locations: The original location inside the IMU on the Iowa campus and a second location inside the Pride Alliance Center at 125 Grand Avenue Court in Iowa City.
To learn more about Food Pantry at Iowa, click HERE.
About the University of Iowa
The University of Iowa is one of the nation's premier public research universities, dedicated to academic excellence, groundbreaking discoveries and creations, commitment to Iowa and the world, and a culture that prizes community, diversity, and opportunity.
Iowa is known around the world for its leadership in the arts, sciences, and humanities. It is home to the first and best creative-writing program in the world, a world-class academic medical center and one of America's top teaching hospitals, and a can-do culture that fosters a campus-wide dedication to student success.
To learn more about the University of Iowa, click HERE.