Food pantry extends hours, adds service at Pleasant Grove

Service coordinator Danae Bass talks to tutoring coordinator Anand Upadhyaya while handing out produce from the mobile food pantry on the first floor of the G Building last August. Photo by Rory Moore/The Et Cetera
By HARRIET RAMOS
@HarrietRamosETC
Service coordinator Danae Bass helps a student pick out food at the mobile food pantry on the first floor of the G Building last August. The mobile food pantry will be making its debut tat the satellite campus in Pleasant Grove this month. Photo by Rory Moore/The Et Cetera

Eastfield’s Honeycomb Cupboard food pantry is moving to a new location on campus where it will have more space and a refrigerator, President Eddie Tealer announced in his Jan. 16 convocation address.

The new location has not been made public, but Tealer said it would be soon.

He also reported that the North Texas Food Bank mobile pantry would begin providing service to the Pleasant Grove campus starting Feb. 18.

“That’s the best news I could have received,” said food pantry coordinator Danae Bass. “With more space comes more variety, more options, more food. We’ll have more of an opportunity to get new items out there.”

Due to space restrictions and lack of refrigeration, the pantry currently stocks only non- perishable items such as boxed milk, rice and canned vegetables.

The new refrigerator, which will be purchased by the college, will allow the pantry to provide fresh milk and meat. The North Texas Food Bank mobile pantry began once-a-month service to Eastfield’s main campus in the spring of 2018. The on-site food pantry was added in March of the following year.

Chris Schlarb, program coordinator with the Center of Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, helps pass out food at the mobile food pantry on the first floor of the G Building last August. Photo by Rory Moore/The Et Cetera

Javier Olguin, executive director of the Pleasant Grove campus, said there were several challenges that hindered them from making a food pantry available until now.

“We’re a satellite campus,” he said. “We’re a skeletal crew, so it’s hard to bring in services.”

The Pleasant Grove campus does not have enough space for an on-site pantry, Olguin said, and the North Texas Food Bank did not have a mobile unit when they began negotiations with them 10 years ago. Now that the mobile food bank service is scheduled to begin, Olguin said he might face a different type of challenge.

“How can you get a very proud student who is already a full-time worker somewhere barely making ends [meet]… to think that it’s OK to get a little help once in a while?” he said.

Bass, who works in the college’s Center for Equity, Inclusion and Diversity, sees Eastfield’s food pantry as an important part of helping students succeed in their classes.

“If someone has to make a decision on food or books, I don’t really want that to be something that they have to make,” she said. “A lot of the services that I provide here are to try to keep students in school, so they don’t have to make decisions with some of their basic needs.”

Bemy, who is working toward an Associate of Science degree, said that she was especially grateful to see the hygienic products that the pantry offers. She asked that her full name be withheld for privacy.

[READ MORE: Campus food pantry to open after initial delay]

“Thank God I don’t have to stress myself about little things,” she said. “There’s help here.” The pantry relies on employee and student volunteers to serve those who come through. Bass said that a minimum of 40 volunteers are needed on a weekly basis and that number will likely increase with the expansion of the pantry.
Charlesetta Evers, an administrative clerk in the president’s office and food pantry volunteer, said it is rewarding to help students get what they need.

Evers, who underwent a heart and kidney transplant in 2015, said volunteering at the food pantry is a way for her to give back.

“You just never know who’s hurting and who needs that help,” she said.

Bass said she knows the pantry is making a difference in the lives of Eastfield students.

“Without the pantry, they may not have any food that week,” Bass said. “So, going back to the expanded services and the expanded space, … [I’m] just thinking we can make an even bigger impact and hopefully reach even more students.”

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