The University of Louisiana at Lafayette’s food pantry, known as Campus Cupboard, is taking steps to remain open as a community resource during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Campus Cupboard was established in 2018 in the Intensive English Program building, providing short-term food assistance for UL Lafayette’s undergraduate and graduate students as well as the faculty and staff. Campus Cupboard provides students access to nonperishable foods and toiletries as needed and at no cost.
Before and during the recent COVID-19 pandemic, the Campus Cupboard has served as an integral resource for the campus community
“I think Campus Cupboard is playing an excellent role with the community. Many of my friends and neighbors are using this,” said Jahidul Alam, a doctoral student and graduate teaching assistant at UL Lafayette who uses Campus Cupboard.
And, in the midst of the recent pandemic, Campus Cupboard has no plans to stop or limit their availability as they continue to help supply people with food. The Campus Cupboard adapted quickly, finding new ways to ensure that they are still able to provide resources to those who need them within the UL Lafayette community.
“With the closure of bars, restaurants, and retail operations, we knew more of our students would need the Campus Cupboard to sustain adequate nutrition during these uncertain times,” said Margarita Perez, Ph.D., Dean of Students at UL Lafayette and co-establisher of Campus Cupboard.
Campus Cupboard began reaching out to their community partners, such as Sodexo and local donors, to make sure Campus Cupboard remains adequately stocked. To accommodate social distancing, Campus Cupboard is changing their approach on how students get their food, in order to ensure that both students and staff are safe.
Alam, who uses Campus Cupboard, said he noticed that it had already begun finding ways to adapt to the COVID-19 pandemic when he visited in early March. He said they had started prepackaging food in order to minimize physical contact, a precaution that he said was a great step in the right direction.
Campus Cupboard is now operating with a to-go option: students are able to fill out a short form online that asks about their current situation and dietary restrictions, and they can reserve a day and time for pickup. They then just have to go to Campus Cupboard at their reserved time to pick up their food, which is already prepackaged by the staff.
“This allows for social distancing with the spreading out of pickups and limited contact of our staff with students,” said Perez.
This pick-up service is available from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday.
Safety precautions are also being taken by the staff and volunteers of Campus Cupboard as they work diligently to prepackage and organize food. They have implemented a limit of one person at a time working to package, so as to minimize contact even more.
For those looking for a way to help the Campus Cupboard and their cause, there are volunteer opportunities available, and both food and monetary donations are being accepted.
“At this time it is best to make monetary donations to Campus Cupboard rather than actual items,” said Dean Perez. People can make monetary donations online.
UL Lafayette students in need of food can fill out this form and reserve their time to pick up some non-perishable food at the Campus Cupboard, located in UL Lafayette’s Intensive English Program building.