INDIANAPOLIS — Tucked away by parking garage doors and squeezed in by mailboxes is perhaps one of the most important things on the IUPUI campus.
“As the word gets out, we are seeing a lot of traffic coming through here,” said Joe Spaulding.
Spaulding is the Student Director of Paw’s Pantry, a food bank for IUPUI students and staff.
He juggles volunteering with the pantry and majoring in mechanical engineering.
“I know what it’s like to be a student. I know what it’s like to be under pressure. I just can’t imagine what it would be like to be sitting in class and being hungry and not being able to focus on what’s happening in lecture.”
In only its second year, Paw’s Pantry has had to extend its hours from two days a month to two days a week because the need is so great.
“IUPUI isn’t immune to hunger at all. We’re right in the thick of it and sometimes it’s the students that need it the most.”
A study recently out in the Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior says 59% of college students are food insecure, meaning they don’t know where their next meal is coming from.
“You may not know it, but one of your classmates might be food insecure, might be struggling with hunger, but they just don’t show it,” said Spaulding.
A recent successful food drive helped fill the pantry, but Spaulding said it will be gone before they know it.
They’re in such need of donations, they recently put crates in several campus buildings so people who have the means can easily help.
“The reaction from students whenever I come and volunteer at the pantry and greet people at the desk when they check in has just been thankfulness,” said Spaulding.
“It’s a big weight off of their shoulders. Students who come in to the pantry, students in general, they should only be worrying about their exams or papers that they need to write. Hunger shouldn’t be one of those things that they have to worry about and so that’s what we’re here to help with.”
Paw’s Pantry is open Wednesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. in room 220 of the IUPUI Campus Center.
The Paw’s Pantry website is updated weekly with a wish list.