Cats’ Cupboard, K-State’s food pantry, helps Wildcats during COVID-19
Prior to COVID-19 disrupting everyone’s lives, the Cats’ Cupboard, K-State’s food pantry, was an essential resource on campus for students, faculty and staff. Now that many students, faculty and staff and their families may have decreased income, the need for the pantry to keep operating is crucial.
“It has been such a whirlwind, responding to COVID-19,” said Sarah McGreer Hoyt, operations lead for Cats’ Cupboard. “We were getting back from spring break and realizing we were going to have to adapt. One of our advisory board members heard of pantries going online. Within 36 hours we had a plan and were putting it in action with an online order form. We were serving students, faculty and staff within days.”
Like many, Cats’ Cupboard employees and volunteers are working from home most of the time. On Wednesdays, they’re in the pantry to pack orders, which can be picked up curbside on Thursdays. This is done by a much smaller-than-normal crew.
“Most of our volunteers are undergraduate students, and we lean so heavily on them,” Hoyt said. “We have three student employees who would normally be here and between 15 and 20 volunteers a semester. With them gone, we’re missing 30-40 hours of help a week. They would do a lot of lifting, shelving and inventory work.”
The pantry relies heavily on in-kind donations of food, which have been down during this time. “We don’t normally shop at the stores to fill our shelves,” Hoyt said. “Most of our inventory is in-kind gifts of food. We also get food from Harvesters, but they get their food from donations too, so what’s available may not be the core things that you’d really like to fill your shelves with. We’ve been turning to our monetary donations to do our own grocery shopping to get the necessary items.
“We’re making the dollar stretch as far as we can, and there are people who really need it right now,” Hoyt said. “The students and employees who are using this service right now are really grateful. They are juggling a lot, and this means a lot to them.”