Two donations drives were held today for Paw’s Pantry at IUPUI in anticipation of the upcoming holidays.
The first drive was the Pack a Meal with Million Meal Movement event, held from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Campus Center atrium. As pop music blared from speakers, volunteers donned red hair nets and began to pack rice-soy casseroles in groups of 10 to 12. Event organizers aimed to pack 5,000 meals to feed over 1,200 families through Paw’s Pantry.
Shane Scarlett, general manger of the event and a member of the Indianapolis-based Million Meal Movement, actively encouraged bystanders to join in by microphone.
“We’re here to have one goal,” Scarlett said. “That is to end hunger in Indiana.”
According to Shaina Lawrence, assistant director for the Office of Student Advocacy and Support, this was the first Pack a Meal event to be held on campus.
“This event is the first time we’ve done this here at IUPUI for Paw’s Pantry,” Lawrence said.
Lawrence explained that the drive was a part of a broader effort for Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week. The second donation drive held for this week today was the Jam the Pantry event, which took place from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. at Paw’s Pantry.
Dawson Groves is an IUPUI student who serves as vice chair of donations for Paw’s Pantry. Groves is a junior and media arts major who first joined the pantry as a freshman.
“Knowing the impact that the pantry had on people, seeing people thank us for our services, really inspired me to become more involved,” Groves said.
As vice chair, Groves helped coordinate the Jam the Pantry event, which was scheduled to coincide with the winter holidays.
“It’s just in time for Thanksgiving, so it’s an opportunity for people to give back,” Groves said.
Groves said that the goal for the Jam the Pantry event this year was to receive two tons of food and other items.
“Our target items are Hamburger Helper, hygiene items, breakfast foods, stuff like that,” Groves said. “But people are welcome to bring anything.”
Groves said that those who are unable to contribute donations could contribute their time.
“We’re always open to help. People who want to volunteer, it’s a great help,” Groves said. “We always need more people.”
Groves identified the lack of knowledge that there are people on campus who lack consistent access to food as an obstacle for the pantry.
“I think another thing people struggle with is just knowing that there is a huge need for people with food insecurity on campus,” Groves said.
Asia Gibson is a senior at IUPUI majoring in social work who has worked at Paw’s Pantry for at least three months. Gibson said that it wasn’t just students who were food insecure on campus.
“I feel like here at IUPUI, we have some very vulnerable populations, student and staff, who are food insecure and who are maybe dealing with some type of form of homeliness,” Gibson said.
Gibson said the pantry was a good resource to mitigate food insecurity on campus.
“The pantry is just a really nice resource for them to have on campus to utilize that provides food for them,” Gibson said. “Also, too, it’s just a way for them to feel like they’re cared in some way.”
Gibson cautioned that she did not intend to speak on the behalf of those who came to Paw’s Pantry and welcomed feedback from the community.
“I hope Paw’s Pantry is really impacting IUPUI and the community around it, and if anybody has any input on how we can better serve the community we’d really appreciate it,” Gibson said.
Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week events on campus will continue with the community volunteering event Jags in the Street with JagPass at Room 310 of the Campus Center from 10 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Friday, Nov. 16.