Posted at 11:55 a.m., Oct. 17, 2014

The Pantry

Fodder and Feed

Food insecure students finally allowed access

In its hey day, a year ago, The Pantry at Laramie County Community College was opened with great fanfare. In August 2013, at the opening session for employees each of the 21 buildings on campus competed to donate a specific item throughout the year to help supply The Pantry.

Earlier under the guidance of Dr. JoLene Klumpp, instructor of human services and psychology, and Jeri Griego, instructor of accounting and business and Service Learning coordinator, and many volunteer students, The Pantry had been created. A Golden Apple Grant through the LCCC Foundation funded a freezer; the agriculture department donated a butchered hog; the Boy Scouts donated 900 pounds of food, and other on-campus and community organizations contributed time, food and supplies.

On Sept. 16, it was opened on the bottom floor of the Business and Technology Building.

For those who don’t know, The Pantry, a free service for currently enrolled students, offers food, hygiene care, baby care and household products as well as school supplies. So why was such a widely supported program denied to students for the first four weeks of school?

Pantry relies on donations and volunteers

Entirely student-run, The Pantry depends solely on donations, fundraisers and food drives to stock its shelves and on volunteers to work during business hours. The unpaid student director/coordinator, Tehla Bates Stayer, just needed a key to gain access two weeks before school started.

She was informed by newly hired Math and Social Sciences Dean Kathleen Hathaway that “things are too busy” and would have to wait until the first week of school for access. This game of cat and mouse continued for four weeks during which Stayer said she was continuously denied access to The Pantry.

So, while the Student Government Association was busy debating how much to spend on pizza at its election party, an essential service providing food and toilet paper to students was unavailable.

Finally, after approaching President Dr. Joe Schaffer, Stayer was told he would inquire about the closure, and later she was granted a meeting with Dean Hathaway to discuss the future of The Pantry.

After five weeks of back-and-forth, The Pantry opened, and students were allowed access once again. But damage had already been done.

During the closure Stayer was approached numerous times by students in regard to The Pantry and didn’t know how to respond. Stayer said the most substantial damage was the loss of availability to students, the loss of opportunities to obtain volunteers and the loss of faith in the reliability of The Pantry.

She said opening The Pantry during the Week of Welcome would have assisted in spreading the word to new and returning students.
For some, this addressed their food insecurity, a term defined by the U.S. Department of Agriculture as limited or uncertain access to nutritious, safe foods necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle. In fact, a 2013 study found one in six Americans does not have enough food to sustain a healthy life.

74 percent of LCCC students report food insecurities

In 2013, an informal LCCC survey conducted by human services found 74 percent of LCCC students reported food insecurities at least once a week and 52 percent reported it three times a week. The No. 1 reason given was financial, but no transportation and limited on-campus food service on weekends and holidays were also cited.

Students using The Pantry may still visit twice a week and receive five items each time. Starting this semester, an extra item will be given if the returning students bring the reusable bags that have been provided to them.

Another new feature will be the use of volunteers outside of the human services program. “I’m excited that we are opening The Pantry up for volunteers outside of the human services program,” Stayer said. “It will be a little more difficult to coordinate. However, I feel that this will open up a lot of opportunities.”

She has also created a Facebook page for The Pantry and encourages students and supporting members of the community to connect to the page. This page will also provide followers with specials and information such as closures and the need for more volunteers.

SkillsUSA Auto/Diesel and Active Minds are among the LCCC clubs that have opted to volunteer along with CHAT, a local business that provides services for people with developmental disabilities. The more volunteers working, the more hours The Pantry could be open. Volunteers may contact Tehla Bates Stayer at 307-421-2465 or

Future of The Pantry

So what’s in store for the future of The Pantry? “I hope nothing but good things,” Stayer said. “I have a lot of support from the community, and I hope this continues. I just don’t want [the delayed opening] to overshadow The Pantry. [It] is a good thing, and it is a necessity for many. I would like to see it remain that way, and I want [The Pantry] to have a wonderful year.”

To make that happen, Wingspan recommends the LCCC administration make a commitment to ensure the stability of this essential program by including The Pantry in its budget to fund paid part-time student staff and publicity and by moving The Pantry supervision exclusively under Service Learning.

The cost of employing a part-time student to work 15 hours a week, 32 weeks a year at $10 an hour would be less than $5,000. On Sept. 17, the LCCC Board of Trustees approved $44,000 a year to provide hay for animals used by the rodeo team and in the agriculture program.

If we can buy fodder for our livestock, surely we can afford feed for our students.  

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