Shopping-Style Food Pantry: What’s it like?

If you’ve never visited the Human Services Resource Center during days when we have a shopping-style food pantry, this post can give you an idea of what to expect.

As a reminder, you can find our schedule on our website – and you can visit during non-shopping style days and we can help make you a box of food.

The front of a mid-century modern looking brown building has stairs to one side and a ramp to the other.
We have a shopping-style food pantry 3-4 times per month. The sign outside our building says Avery House. The building is often named Avery Lodge (like on campus maps). Someday soon, the building will re-named. We know it’s confusing in the interim; unfortunately, there isn’t anything we can do.
a green sandshich board is at teh top of stairs
Anyone who meets income qualifications can visit the HSRC food pantry. This resource is not limited to students.

There is free street parking immediately in front of Avery on Madison Avenue, though it’s often full during the school day. More street parking can be found on adjacent city streets. The parking lot immediately East of Avery is monitored until 5:00 pm, as is the crescent campus lot 1/2 block away to the West. Further details can be found at the OSU parking page.  If you’re stopping in for a quick food box, you may find the 30 minute loading zone spots helpful.

A smiling woman sits behind a table with assorted papers
Before you can get your food, you’ll have to sign in at our welcome desk.

We know that some people might have concerns about data collection and privacy. The information collected on this form is not shared with the broader university. You can read more about our data collection and data philosophy on our website.

A hand is holding a pen and writing information on a form. The top half of the form is obscured by an orange sheet of paper.
Signing in is simple: you’ll just have to record your name, address, household size and sign your name to confirm that you meet income eligibility guidelines. The laminated orange sheet helps us protect the confidentiality of the individuals who signed in before you.

We get most of our food from the Linn Benton Food Share, our regional food bank. Using this sign-in form and following strict confidentiality rules are part of our agreement with them.

A form with text explaining income eligibility and non discrimination policy is obscured by an orange piece of paper.
When you sign in, the form has important information about eligibility criteria and our non-discrimination policy.
Income guidelines are similar to qualifications for other government and community support programs.
text of our non discrimination policy.
We take our non-discrimination policy seriously. If you feel like there is room for improvement, please alert a staff person.
multiple reusable shopping bags are heaped on a table.
If you have reusable bags, please bring them! This helps us keep food costs low. If you forget your bags, don’t worry, we have some paper bags for you to use.
An illustration of a van is on a card, with a capital V and a lowercase v on it. The card itself sits on the arm of a couch.
After you sign in, you’ll be issued a card – we’ll call this when it’s your turn (instead of your name or a number).
While you are waiting you can study at a table. We have wifi in our building and this might be a good time to get some studying done. Ask a staff member if you need to print something and we’ll show you where you can do so.
Couches are arranged in front of a fire place, with decorative squash in the foreground.
We also have couches and chairs to sit on while you wait your turn.
Diet Dr. Pepper and juice boxes are on a table.
We often have snacks available.
Chicken is in a bowl with rice, a cookbook is open to a page with the recipe for it.
Sometimes we have recipe tastings. This is Adobo Chicken from the Good and Cheap Cookbook, which you can check out from the HSRC.
Sometimes we have information about campus and community resources tabling at our pantry. Be sure to check these out, they’re often really helpful!
A volunteer wearing an apron holds up a card with an illustrated van on it and a capital V and a lowercase v
Keep an ear and an eye out for your turn. A volunteer or a staff person will hold up a card that matches the one you were given when you checked in.
Its your turn when a volunteer holds up a card that is the same as yours.
The volunteer or staff person will have a card that looks similar to this- and will help you keep track of how much food you’re able to take home. This is based on recommendations from the USDA and is a recommendation based on how much food a household of your size might need for about a week. This card is for a household size of 2 people.
Stacked of red and black shopping baskets
We have shopping baskets for you to use.

First, you’ll get to choose the fresh produce options you’d like to take home to your family.

Onions in a wooden crate.
In the winter months, sometimes we have fewer produce options.
Colorful berries are in green berry baskets
In the summer months, we sometimes have berries and carrots and broccolini.
Herbs and celery and parsnips and fennel
Sometimes our produce selection includes celery and fennel and parsnips and even herbs.

On average, each household that visits the HSRC gets about 5 lbs of food per visit. We get some of our produce from the Linn Benton Food Share or from members of our communities with abundant home gardens. We are especially grateful for community gardens like Produce for the People and our partnership with the Student Sustainability Initiative, Growing Food Security who help us be generous with produce at the HSRC.

A white board is on a silver surface
Each freezer contains different items. The numbers indicate how many servings the item counts for. In this case, a whole chicken is four servings of protein.
Our freezers can also sometimes have frozen meals or frozen vegetables.
Eggs and margarine on a tray, on a black table
We usually distribute eggs and margarine on a one-per-household basis.

After you shop for fresh produce and frozen items, you’ll move into our dry-good storage area where you can choose from the shelf-stable items.

If you like raisins, we almost always have lots of them! This is our canned fruits and vegetable section. Each canned item usually counts as one serving.
We also have non-meat proteins like beans and nut butters.

If you have dietary restrictions or food allergies, let the volunteer or staff person who’s assisting you know – we’ll make sure you get extra of something else to make things equitable. You don’t have to take home anything you don’t like or don’t need.

Sometimes we get items that are bagged and labeled like these oats. The state and regional food banks buy this food in bulk and do a re-package like this to help pantries like ours feed our communities at very low cost. Bagged items like this usually count as two servings.
white aseptic containers of chicken stock
Sometimes the food we get from the food pantry network has unusual labels or packaging. This is turkey stock.
silver bag of beef stew
This silver-packaging is a bag of beef stew.
bagged beans
This is a mix of beans, perfect for soup or chili.
Cereals, grains and pastas on shelves
We also have a selection of cereals, pastas, and other grains.
Bags of coffee and boxes of tea
Sometimes we get things like coffee and tea, snacks or other items. These are often one-per-household distribution items.
bagged tampons and pads
We often have a selection of menstruation products.
diapers and other items on a wire shelf
We don’t often have baby-items like diapers, but sometimes we do!
After you’re done shopping, we can help bag your items.

Once a volunteer has called your name, most people spend 15-20 minutes shopping for their groceries. We usually have a lot to choose from.

Two people wearing aprons smile for the camera.
Anyone wearing an apron is either a staff or a volunteer. We’re happy to answer any questions you have.

On average, the HSRC provides 18 lbs of food per individual. If you’re a household of two, this means an average of 32 lbs of food!

 

In One Snap, Students got SNAP

An illustration of two hands holding a banana and an orange, with the words one snap, get SNAP, reduce the stigma get SNAP benefits

The Human Services Resource Center and Student Sustainability Initiative aim to reduce student hunger with “One Snap, Get SNAP.”

On January 19th, 2018,  over the course of four hours, 53  students, in both graduate and undergraduate studies, filtered through to begin their applications for SNAP benefits, otherwise known as food stamps. Application processes can be intimidating. As we heard from one student, “I’ve attempted to apply before but never completed the application due to not being sure about some of the answers.” To help with the application process three SNAP experts from the OSU Extension SNAP Outreach team and the Oregon Department of Human Services were on hand to assist as needed. Staff had both paper applications, and provided laptops so students can complete the online application if that was their preference. 

A student is seated at a computer, an adult looks over her shoulder pointing at the screen to help her get SNAP benefits.
A DHS representative helps a student apply for SNAP benefits.

Roughly 36% of OSU students reported not having enough financial resources on the 2017 Campus Inclusivity Survey. While the average student attending the event applied for benefits only for themselves, at least 5 students who responded to our follow-up survey applied for benefits for a household of two or more people. One student shared through the survey: “This was such a helpful event. I kept on putting off doing the paperwork and was worried I wouldn’t get benefits. Any questions I had were answered and I don’t have to worry as much.” Eligibility qualifications for students can be confusing, so having staff available to assist was key to the successful event. 

Food was provided at the event, and 323 KIND granola bars were distributed, each affixed with stickers promoting event details prior to the 19th.  An important  value of the HSRC is abundance of resources, especially in regard to food. The HSRC sees the need many students experience in the form of increased Food Assistance Application numbers. Increased attendance at the multiple monthly food pantry nights at Avery Lodge, and term by term growth of the Textbook Lending Program also illustrate the growing need of students. Providing food at the event ensured that everyone who came by, at least got to eat lunch for the day.

Through the efforts of the HSRC and SSI, the students who attended “One Snap, Get SNAP” could, combined, receive upwards of $50,000 in grocery money over the course of the next six months (approximately $157 per month per person, though individuals could be eligible for up to $189 per month and those with families or dependents could see even more). While not a permanent fix to student hunger, programming and outreach for SNAP benefits helps provide students with resources that better allow them to focus on school.  Providing access to these community resources on campus, where students spend a lot of their time, helps make the process for applying for SNAP benefits easier. When students aren’t worried about where their next meal is coming from they are better able to concentrate on school and make the most of their education, further enriching themselves and their communities.