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Giving Tuesday to Raise Endowment for OBU Food Pantry Dec. 1

November 30, 2020

OBU is sponsoring a very special cause this year for Giving Tuesday, Dec. 1. The University’s advancement office is leading an effort to raise funds to endow the Good Things Food Pantry, a food ministry on campus which began in early 2020 to meet the food needs of all OBU students and end food insecurity for students on Bison Hill.

Food insecurity is a widespread issue on college and university campuses throughout the nation, and OBU is no different. Many students experience times throughout the week when they have a gap in meals, either because they have run out of meal credits on their campus meal plan, they are short on money, or they don’t have the transportation to get to the store.

The Good Things Food Pantry exists to bridge those gaps by providing OBU students with needed food items in order to promote success inside and outside the classroom. The food pantry is located on the second floor of the Geiger Center behind the information desk and is open to all OBU students.

In order to help meet this critical need, staff member Cynthia Gates founded the Good Things Food Pantry almost a year ago. Gates, director of events, camps and conferences at OBU, saw the need for the food pantry when she learned of a student who was working as summer staff on campus and who had not eaten for three days, prompting her and others to provide some aid.

“Nationwide, food insecurities on college campuses touch about 40 percent of students,” Gates said. “OBU conducted a survey last fall and found out that 32 percent of our students had experienced some type of food insecurities. That's a significant number, and if we can help students not worry about food, they can be more successful in the classroom and other areas of their lives.”

OBU’s Good Things Food Pantry exists to “fill the gap” of food needs and minister to any currently enrolled OBU students. In the few weeks before the pandemic back in February and March 2020, the pantry served over 120 students. Students utilizing the pantry included international students, children of missionaries, first generation college students, athletes and more.

The food pantry is open to all OBU students and is run on a simple points system. Every food item in the pantry is assigned one point. Students are allowed ten points per week and may get food from the pantry once per week. In response to COVID-19 safety protocols, students are able to go online and request the items they want, with volunteers filling and bagging those orders. This way, the distribution process is safe during the pandemic, as the number of people entering the pantry itself is limited.

The food pantry has been supported by donations, food drives, and also receiving food support from an external food bank. However, Gates desires to raise this endowment so that the food pantry ministry may be self-sustaining financially and be able to support students every month, regardless of the current level of donations. With an endowed fund, monthly supplies could be purchased form the interest generated by the base fund, thus providing support for this ministry indefinitely into the future.

The fundraising efforts kicked off in earnest a few months ago with a letter sent to several thousand alumni asking for donations to support the food pantry by giving to this restricted fund set up for donations for food purchases. The response was tremendous, leading the university advancement staff to select this project for Giving Tuesday, the first Tuesday after Thanksgiving each year. Giving Tuesday is a global movement that encourages people and organizations to transform their communities and the world.

Good Things Food Pantry also accepts food donations. Items that are most needed include shelf-stable products, such as canned meat, pasta and canned vegetables. Gates added that some of the most in-demand items from students include Ramen noodles, soups, canned tuna or chicken, Hamburger helper-type meals, pasta, spaghetti sauce, ravioli, cereal, juice, peanut butter and jelly.

By donating to the Good Thing Food Pantry, supporters help free students from the stress of finding food, helping them succeed both inside and outside the classroom. No one wants to have to ask for food, but being hungry and having nowhere to turn is worse.

Many staff, alumni, faculty and university supporters have already made commitments to begin funding this ministry. This sends a strong signal to OBU students that there are people all around them who care for them. As Psalm 107:9 says, “He satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things.”