VCU organization kicks off another year dedicated to fighting food insecurity

Illustration by Mai-Phuong Bui.

RamPantry — an organization dedicated to helping food-insecure VCU students — provided a training session on the procedures behind one of the university’s humanitarian efforts.

“How many of you are return volunteers?” asked RamPantry president Kathryn Rowe. Dozens of people raised their hands.

First-time volunteer and VCU student Milton Gardner said he was interested in helping out with RamPantry because of the importance of the issue.

“People I know on a personal level (are) affected by food insecurity,” Gardner said.

Simply put, RamPantry is an ongoing effort to eliminate the threat of food insecurity faced by some VCU students. Originally student-led, RamPantry is beginning its eighth year of operation, now under the wing of the department of Off-Campus Student Services, a division of Student Affairs.

Food insecurity is largely a silent crisis,” Rowe said. “Those who are suffering often do so with little help from external resources, and those who are not suffering often are unaware of how pervasive this issue truly is.”

Rowe said volunteering with RamPantry opened her eyes to the fact that food insecurity can happen to anyone and it can be devastating to an individual’s life and academic potential. Student volunteers are needed — and trained — to assist anyone visiting the pantry and to accept donations from the greater VCU community.

Acceptable items for donation include food stuffs and hygiene products, which can be dropped off in the donation bins located outside the pantry. Suggested food items are canned foods, cereals and other non-perishables.

Open to all students who have a valid VCU ID, those in need can go to the RamPantry in room 121 of the University Student Commons once a week to get up to five goods — however, four canned goods count as one item. Also, according to the RamPantry website, students can take an unlimited amount of bread and produce.

Hours of operation for students are 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Wednesdays and Thursdays. Interested volunteers can sign up for single shifts each Friday at the same location.

RamPantry will participate in the FeedVA Day of Action on Sept. 13 from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. That day, students are encouraged to stop by the pantry to drop off donations.

Chip Lauterbach, Contributing Writer

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