Panther Pantry Has Your Dinner Covered
by Lesley McLam, January 31st 2020
On college campuses nationwide, a rising concern among students is not having enough to eat. This is known as being food insecure.
When a person does not have regular access to enough food to maintain a healthy body and
functionality, they may end up burning more calories than they consume in a day. This type of
calorie deficit can lead to serious hunger which is known to inhibit the ability to learn and
A college student living off of ramen noodles and coffee would have a harder time learning the
course material than a classmate who can afford to three full meals a day complete with
vegetables and protein.
A 2018 study of 237 graduate students from a large, public Mid-Atlantic University found that
“15% were food insecure; an additional 16% were at risk of food insecurity.” 2020 changes to SNAP, the federally funded Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, have increased the worries of college students nationwide about accessing a range of food options to stay healthy, nourished, and focused.
Currently, the new changes state that a student who is going to college ‘at least half-time’ can
still qualify for SNAP benefits, also known as Food Stamps, but only if they also meet specific
requirements or exemptions. Some of the qualifying exemptions are working 20+ hours per
week or being considered ‘physically or mentally unfit for employment’ according to Oregon
State’s website on the topic.
But, what if your college campus is not set up to accept SNAP?
Another option for students who may not qualify for SNAP but are food insecure is the Panther
Portland Community College’s student government (the ASPCC) has been hard at work
meeting the food needs of PCC’s student body by opening a free pantry at each of its four
At each Pantry, during open hours, a currently enrolled PCC student simply needs to show their
school ID, answer a few simple and confidential questions about nutritional needs and habits on
a tablet, and then select groceries to take home. A student does not need to qualify for any
programs or be considered low-income in order to access a Panther Pantry.
Peter, a volunteer at the Cascade campus Panther Pantry, says “The pantry is open to all
students. They can come once per week to pick out their own groceries.” When asked how
many bags of food can a student take home per visit, Peter pointed out a helpful infographic on
the wall that had the word recommendations highlighted in orange marker, indicating a balanced spread of the food ingredients available.
So, how can a student find more information about their campus pantry?
Even for me, a student who has checked out what a campus pantry has to offer, a PCC website
search for the pantry can be confusing and tedious. For example, typing ‘Panther pantry,’ or
simply ‘pantry’ into to the Ask the Panther search box located on your MyPCC page won’t
yield any results.
However, the Southeast campus pantry has a page on the Panther Hub, which is accessible
A classic Google search for ‘PCC+pantry’ brought up a surprisingly helpful link directly to
Portland Community College’s page for Free Resources; which is found under ‘Student
Leadership Programs.’ On this page, the hours and location on each campus’s pantry is listed.
Each PCC campus, like Southeast, manages donations for their own Pantry, although
funding is determined by student enrollment at a district-wide level. The Student Activity Fee
(SAF) of $3.40 per tuition credit hour, which is determined by the District Student Council
(DSC), partially funds the Panther Pantry program. “This fee is reviewed by students every two
years to determine the program allocations at the district level,” according to PCC’s website.
If you visit the Southeast campus Panther Pantry you can enter into a raffle to win one of three
prizes at the end of Winter 2020 term. All you have to do to enter is bring your own reusable
bag(s) when visiting the pantry!
For updates and restocking information at PCC’s Southeast Campus Panther Pantry, visit their
page at: www.hub.pcc.edu/organization/sepantherpantry
For more information on another Panther Pantry, reach out to the ASPCC on your campus.