The COVID-19 crisis has isolated people in ways many have never dealt with before, but some find themselves even more helpless than others.
Consider Florida Gulf Coast University students basically confined to campus, many from foreign countries and already cut off from family and friends to begin with. Others are unable to leave campus housing with limited transportation options. Sadly, some who support themselves and their families with part- and full-time jobs – many in the hospitality industry – while earning degrees have temporarily, or maybe permanently, lost employment during the shutdown.
For these students, the FGCU Campus Food Pantry is a more important lifeline than ever, especially with many community food banks and distribution sites overrun by demand.
“Our clients consist mostly of international students who cannot return home yet, other students remaining in campus housing, and local students who lost their jobs or are having trouble finding work. These are the same groups that usually visit the pantry throughout the year,” said Samantha Lloyd, food pantry coordinator.
The statistics this spring prove Lloyd’s point. “We cannot give full stats for the semester yet, but so far this spring, we have had 219 students visit 602 times, for an average of 2.75 visits per student,” Lloyd said. “In spring 2019, we had 200 students visit 786 times, for an average of 3.9 visits per student.”
Created in 2012 by Jo Anna Bradshaw, wife of former FGCU President Wilson Bradshaw, to serve the needs of enrolled students struggling with food insecurity, the pantry is in room 102 of the Music Modular on Lot 7, on the south side of campus. Its April hours are noon to 5 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays. “We also have an outdoor food pantry available (next to the stairs outside the modular) for when we are closed,” Lloyd said. “We also refer people to United Way and Harry Chapin Food Bank.”
She emphasizes that student use of the food pantry is confidential.
Lloyd said donations can be made at the pantry during the Tuesday-Wednesday operating hours, or at the usual campus drop sites: Cohen Student Union 104, 255, 288; Edwards Hall 214 G; McTarnaghan Hall 229; Merwin Hall 296 B; and the lobby of the Daniels Public Media Center.
As for items most in demand on campus, Lloyd said, “mainly items that cannot be found in stores, such as dairy products, bread and other perishables.”
Besides the food pantry website, updates also can be found on Instagram: @fgcucampusfoodpantry. The pantry phone number is 239-745-3663.