Final Days for Panther Pantry Student Workers
SE Panther Pantry Focused on Supplying Food and Household Needs Before Closure
by Kanani Cortez
Panther Pantries continued to provide students and faculty with food and supplies during their final days of operation ahead of the school closing until May 4th. The pantry was cordoned off to facilitate the process with minimal contact between employees and students, with signs informing students to stand several feet apart, in adherence to social distancing practices. Bags of food were prepackaged and the next person in line could not enter the area until the previous had left. Students were not allowed to enter the pantry itself, instead staff had placed bags on tables outside of the pantry and encouraged participants to “take as much as they can carry,” eliminating the usual limits placed on items.
“We have tried to accommodate students with as much as we can, food-wise. We prepared a bunch of premade bags that have canned goods, pasta, some frozen meat, and milk and butter, to try and load them up before spring break and for the coming weeks that we’re going to be closed,” student ambassador Jessica Johnson said. As businesses, community resources, and campuses close due to the COVID-19 pandemic, many people who rely on these resources are left without access. Many concerns have been raised about food and housing security during this time, but the urgency to “flatten the curve” and slow the spread of the virus has overruled these needs.
Jessica Johnson works at the Southeast campus, but all four pantries will be closing their doors for the foreseeable future. Employees at the SE pantry also work in the student resource hub and some serve as class reps. Johnson’s position, like that of other employees of the pantries, will no longer be functioning during the closures, and many more student employees have lost campus jobs that are unable to transition online.
Johnson also expressed concern about classes that may no longer be offered and the potential impact on financial aid—with credit requirements for eligibility, she’s worried about situations where a needed class may no longer be available. Students who may be on their last term for a specific program whose courses cannot be offered online may find their education on hold altogether.
“I would like just a little more information on what’s going to happen if we can’t register for a certain class, and that’s the only class that we need, is the financial aid still going to be given at that point? Or are we going to see at the last minute that we don’t have half of our funds?” Johnson said.
In this constantly shifting situation, PCC students and staff are reliant upon emails from the school’s administration regarding the state of the campus amid the pandemic, with news of the panty’s closure coming only a few days in advance. Nationwide and statewide changes have been made nearly every day as new knowledge comes to light, and while community food access programs are slowly springing up to fill the gaps it represents a major disruption in this high priority PCC program.
As of now, PCC courses have been moved online until May 4, when the school expects campuses to reopen. Students like Johnson recognize how essential PCC resources are to their success as a student, and are spending their few remaining days open doing as much as they can: “We’re doing the best we can with what we’ve got,” Johnson said.