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Essential Needs

Campus food pantry expands offerings with new freezer, commodities section

Students at the Bods Feeding Bods

From The Ichabod - Spring 2021
By Angela Lutz

Food insecurity can be a hidden problem that is not often discussed on college campuses. As a student and manager of Washburn University’s Bods Feeding Bods Food and Commodities Pantry, Matthew Smoker wants to talk about it.

“Making sure people know we are here is really important, and reducing stigma is another main goal of ours,” said Smoker, who is majoring in psychology and minoring in sociology and poverty studies. “The way I present it is we’re all struggling college students to some degree, and just because we’re a little short on cash and need a few extra meals is not a bad thing.”

Since opening in 2014, the pantry has moved to Kuehne Hall to be more accessible and expanded to include a variety of fresh and frozen foods along with other nonperishable items and commodities such as toiletries, clothes and feminine hygiene products. Last year, the pantry received a grant from Washburn Women’s Venture Partners to purchase a new glass-door freezer, enabling them to stock more perishable items and premade meals. Anyone with a Washburn ID can use the pantry.

“We don’t ask for things like proof of income or citizenship,” said Kristine Hart, mcj '03, senior lecturer and associate director, Center for Community Services, who serves as the Bods Feeding Bods faculty advisor. “If you’re coming to the pantry, we’re not going to make you prove you need food or commodities. We know it’s already hard enough to ask for help.”

In addition to donations from individuals, the pantry has thrived due to partnerships with organizations such as Harvesters and Chartwells, which provides Washburn’s on-campus dining and offers free emergency meals to students. Pantry volunteer leader and secondary math education major Clare Bindley and Smoker have also organized fundraisers to keep the pantry stocked and running during COVID-19, with particular success during the University’s annual Day of Giving.

“Our volunteers were really able to step up during the pandemic and keep the pantry open, which to me demonstrates the need,” Bindley said. “It breaks my heart that this is an issue, so I’m glad I’m able to help relieve some of the struggles of not being able to afford food.”

Perhaps most important to the continued growth of Bods Feeding Bods is the hard work and commitment of the students who volunteer with the organization and serve on its leadership board. Having been involved with the pantry from the beginning, Hart continues to be heartened by how much Washburn students care about their peers on campus.

“They stayed open all summer when there was no one here due to COVID-19,” Hart said. “They knew there were students in town with their families who needed food. It’s incredible how they have stepped up year after year to make sure the pantry is sustainable and accessible.”

Spring 2023 Ichabod magazine cover, roses and a rock wall in front of Morgan Hall

The Ichabod tells our story with features on alumni, faculty, staff, students and friends, along with the latest campus news. View the current and past editions


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