LAS VEGAS (KLAS) – Providing a hand up, not a hand out is what the UNLV food pantry is all about and fighting food insecurity on campus.
When Christopher Acosta first got involved at UNLV’s food pantry a few years ago, he knew he wanted to play a bigger role in his community.
“When I was starting out as a nutrition and sciences major, I actually got involved in a student organization here on campus called the Student Nutrition and Dietetic Association, and I was just looking for volunteer hours. I didn’t really know about the food pantries and how they worked and then someone invited me to come volunteer here for their grand opening, and I got to see what they do, and it was really cool,” explained Acosta. “I want to help reduce the stigma that comes with going to a food pantry and reduce the stigma that is associated with receiving help that is so necessary to our everyday lives.”
The UNLV food pantry is not only supplying food to those on campus but also food safety education and healthy options that may be costly to come by.
“When most people think about food insecurity, they have a vision of what it looks like but food insecurity takes many forms as what we’ve seen during COVID-19, and when people have to choose between food and their bills or their tuition, food normally goes on the wait side but food is so important to our everyday lives,” added Acosta. “This is why something like this is so important on campus and I’m really glad that I’m able to help with that.”
Coordinator Carmen Johnson runs the pantry year-round, ensuring operations go smoothly.
“We want everyone to feel like this is a resource for them. No matter who you are or where you come from we make a point to drive that point home,” Johnson said. ” Just making everyone feel that sense of community when they walk through the door, a very nurturing and compassionate environment is what we foster here in the pantry.”
A new van is also making it easier to do food runs as she’s quite busy, organizing food rescues to now gathering holiday donations
“It kind of hit us of all the sudden so trying to make sure we have enough food for everyone that meant getting different items that we would normally get like instead of milk and cheese, we would get something else so we could feed many as possible, but we’ve been fortunate with the amount of donors we’ve had. We’ve been able to maintain a healthy stock,” Johnson said.
It’s not just food items the pantry accepts, but they’re also in need of hygiene products like toothpaste, tampons, and more.
“This year so far we’ve served over 3,000 people,” Johnson added. “Last month alone we served 422 people who walked through this door.”
The UNLV food pantry is open to UNLV students, staff and faculty. To access assistance, you must present one of the following: a Rebel ID card, proof of employment at UNLV, or proof of registration.
Donations are welcomed and if you would like to learn more, click HERE.