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Gorilla Pantry new leader to fight food insecurity

The Gorilla Pantry, located in Whitesitt 310, recently found new leadership. This semester Taylor Panczer, Campus Activities Center’s (CAC) program coordinator who oversees prevention & wellness, also added to her list of titles and duties to oversee the Gorilla Pantry. 

Panczer took the role this January and has since began working toward the Pantry’s goal of ending food insecurity. The Gorilla Pantry is open all Pitt State students, faculty, and staff with a valid PSU I.D. Gorillas may access the Pantry every Friday from 8 a.m. to noon or may schedule an appointment with Panczer if unavailable during these hours. 

It’s a great opportunity to oversee the Gorilla pantry because it gives it stability and consistent hours, and so that allows student to have access to the food and other basic needs like personal hygiene items and toiletries,” Panczer said. 

Panczer said that many students on college campus suffer from food insecurity and that the Gorilla Pantry is a means of combatting that. She said that with the Gorilla Pantry located on-campus it allows students to “meet basic needs that they aren’t meeting.” 

“… Food insecurity is a major problem across the nation and having access to food and a food pantry on campus allows students who may not necessarily have transportation a hand and then also for those of low income the opportunity to walk to the pantry get their food items and not have to worry about scheduling busses buses or bicycles or things like that. 

Prior to this semester, the Gorilla Pantry was a student-led organization, though the CAC took over leadership in order to grow the pantry’s accessibility.  

“Student Life saw an important need for students to have access to the Pantry and as the Pantry running as a student organization, students are obviously first and prioritize classes and other activities, so we wanted to make sure there was more stability with hours and more accessibility for students,” she said. “So we saw an opportunity to move the Pantry under prevention and wellness, which falls under the department of Campus Activities to give that more stability by having a full-time staff member oversee and run it.” 

The Gorilla Pantry offers items like food and toiletries. Panczer said the process to receive items from the Gorilla Pantry is quite easy, beginning with filling out an intake form. 

“… So if they’ve never been here before the form takes about three minutesit’s confidential, only I see that information—if they’ve been here before then it’s really just signing in and then answering the first few questions … then they are able to come in and take about seven items,” she said. Items that we have a lot of, like oatmeal … granola bars, canned items, they can take two or three of those and they count as one item. If they’re absolutely unable to make it to these hours on Friday’s, they absolutely can email myself or call the Campus Activities Center and schedule an appointment.” 

Gorillas are also encouraged join the fight against food insecurity and donate food and toiletries to assist the Gorilla Pantry. Donation boxes are located throughout campus. 

“We have several donation boxes across campus,” Panczer said. They’re located in the Axe Library, the Student Recreation Center, the Overman Student Center, and then the College of Ed., which is 115 Hughes Hall. If you want to make an online donation, we have an Amazon wish list and that link can be found on the website, which is at pittstate.edu/gethelp and you scroll down to ‘Gorilla Pantry’ or on the Campus Activities Center social media pages.” 

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