Following their soft opening on Nov. 2018, the University of Louisiana at Lafayette held its official grand opening on April 11 for their Campus Cupboard.
Located at the UL Lafayette Intensive English Program on 413 Brook Ave., the Campus Cupboard showcased the cupboard to both the students and the community, according to UL Lafayette Associate Dean of the College of Liberal Arts Pearson Cross, Ph.D.
“The grand opening is just announced to the community at large that we are providing services for students,” Cross said. “It’s hard to get things on people’s radar, so this is to get the word out on our services.”
The services, Cross added, are providing temporary food relief for students who are having trouble finding money or running out of food at the end of the semester.
“If they find themselves a little short in terms of what to eat, we want to provide them help when they need it,” Cross said.
Cross said he was one of the first members who began discussion of the cupboard in Nov. 2017.
“I was one of the people from the beginning that kind of thought of it and discussed it,” Cross said. “So I served as a communication hub and coordinating the effort.”
Cross added the process took longer than expected because of everything that goes into creating a program like the Campus Cupboard.
“These kinds of things have a lot of moving parts, so you would be amazed at the complexities of finding a location, making sure it is clean and ready to go, getting the necessary shelving, finding and getting food sources,” Cross said.
One of their sources for food, Second Harvest Food Bank, helped provide for the Campus Cupboard.
“At Second Harvest Food Bank we know at a long time college campuses around the county are starting campus cupboards for students because many students have to support themselves with jobs and there is food,” said Brenda Pourciau, program coordinator for Second Harvest Food Bank.
Pourciau added no child should worry about food.
“And anyone, whether that be elementary, middle, high school or even college, they shouldn't be worried about eating,” she said.
“For students, you are trying to find a place to live, buying all the resources you need for college can be hard, so at Second Harvest, we help them provide food,” Pourciau said.
Cross said there has been a lot of coverage in the press about campuses that are putting together food pantries.
“So we are trying to address student needs so that’s really where the idea came from,” Cross said.
As Campus Cupboard tries to address the students’ needs, Joseph Savoie, Ph.D., UL Lafayette president, addresses those who attended the grand opening.
“Food security is a student success issue,” Savoie said. “It’s a retention issue, and a quality of life issue, and one that helps students succeed at greater rates.”
Savoie added students who seek food assistance come from every walk of life, every type of family and every financial situation.
“They all deserve help,” Savoie said. “That’s what a family does. That’s what this Campus Cupboard does as well.”
Chandler Harris, senior organizational communication major and Student Government Association president, said she started as a student representative on the Campus Cupboard committee.
“I think part of the reason I wanted to be a part of it (campus cupboard) is to change the conversation from thinking that students are always hungry or always starving and that they don’t have resources,” Harris opined.
Harris added it can be hard for college students to make their money stretch.
“Because the majority of the time, students who are living paycheck-to-paycheck and one week it may not be as feasible to get food,” Harris said.
Harris said to see the process happen so quickly is special.
“It’s really refreshing to see,” Harris said.
If you or anyone would like to contribute to the Campus Cupboard at UL Lafayette, you can drop off your donations at the Lafayette Intensive English Program or email email@example.com or firstname.lastname@example.org. For more details, join their planning group on Facebook.