By Maegan Murray, WSU Tri-Cities
RICHLAND, Wash. – The public is invited to attend the grand opening of the Washington State University Tri-Cities expanded food pantry, the Cougar Cupboard, in partnership with Second Harvest at 11 a.m. Friday, April 13, in the East Commons.
While WSU Tri-Cities has had a food pantry for students since 2014, the expanded Cougar Cupboard will provide students with fresh produce and other options, which will be provided by Second Harvest, a locally run Tri-Cities food bank network. Until now, the cupboard predominantly had provided canned and pre-packaged food items.
“We have many students who may not know where their next meal is coming from, or are unable to feed their families due to limiting factors outside of their control,” said Jordyn Creighton, student financial and support services manager and coordinator for the cupboard.
“As a state and land grant university, by being able to offer fresh produce and other items in addition to our regular offerings, we will not only be able to fill that crucial need for our students, but also use that opportunity to educate them about meal preparation and proper nutrition.”
With the expanded offering of fresh food, WSU Tri-Cities staff, faculty and volunteers also will educate students and their families about health options, food preparation and more.
“We plan to offer tips and advice on creating healthy and balanced meals and educate them on how to prepare those meals,” Creighton said. “We will do so in partnership with our Personal Food Security and Wellness Project, which kicked off this year.”
In 2016, a campus financial survey revealed that 33 percent of students at WSU Tri-Cities experienced financial difficulty. Many students in the WSU Tri-Cities 2017 fall class also met high-risk factors for food insecurity, according to the survey. Within the last two years, WSU Tri-Cities has had more than 350 requests for food by students from the Cougar Cupboard.
Through the Cougar Cupboard, students can sign up to shop for their families by making a visit to the cupboard or by stating that they would like bags of food prepared and held for them at WSU Tri-Cities’ Department of Student Financial and Support Services. With the expanded offerings, WSU Tri-Cities also will continue offering special and expanded food packages to students and their families for holidays that fit popular cultural traditions such as turkey for Thanksgiving, as well as food packages for over school breaks.
“We want to make sure we are preventing as many barriers as possible that would limit their academic potential, and in turn, their future success,” Creighton said. “Everyone needs food to survive and it is a crucial component to our students’ academic success. When you’re hungry, it makes it hard to study and do well in class. We’re excited and ready to launch this expanded endeavor.”
Students can sign up to shop through the cupboard for groceries, or for a container of food that will be available for pick up from the Department of Student Financial and Support Services on the students’ specified date and time, at https://tricities.wsu.edu/finaid/foodbank/.
For more information and to donate food and toiletry items to the food bank, contact Creighton at 509-372-7433, email@example.com.