Privateer Pantry offers free food to students in need


Photo by Demi Guillory

The Privateer Pantry is now open weekly on Mondays and Thursdays in UC 248, offering a selection of food items for students needing assistance.

Demi Guillory, Reporter

Last Wednesday and Thursday, UNO opened the Privateer Pantry to those seeking assistance.

The pantry is relatively new to campus—this is only the third semester the service is being offered to currently enrolled students. After hearing concerning conversations amongst students, manager of student affairs operations Reagan Laiche and director of student involvement and leadership LeeAnne Sipe were inspired to create a service that would lessen a student’s burden.

In a video released last fall during the pantry’s fundraiser, Sipe recalls the inspiration she had for the pantry after she and her colleagues were “just sitting around chatting about experiences we had with students that centered around food insecurity.” Laiche and Sipe conducted a student survey, and the results revealed what they already suspected to be true.  “Food insecurity on campus is real,” Laiche said. This prompted their plan into action, and the Privateer Pantry was born and has been flourishing every since.

In its first semester of operation, the pantry served 35 students. That number would grow the following fall semester, to a total of 41 students, which Laiche sees as “an increase, for sure!” The numbers are especially impressive for a service that has mostly operated in a “pop-up” format, open only during select times with no set operating schedule “to provide food items when on-campus dining serves were limited.” Laiche uses spring break as an example.

Beginning this week, however, the pantry is expected to begin operating on a consistent basis. It will open every Monday and Thursday between the hours of 11:30 a.m. to  2:30 p.m. Students with a valid UNO ID can access the pantry in the Office of Student Affairs, located in room 248 of the University Center. While there is no set limit to how many items one student is allowed, graduate assistant Adele Marrs, who helps operate the pantry, says that each student is usually given a week’s worth of food.

Some of the foods available include pasta, rice, canned soups, canned vegetables, cereal and toiletry items. Students also have the convenient option of filling out a form and checking off the items they need. The pantry staff will pull the requested items so that all the student has to do is pick their items up from the pantry. Should a student choose this option, the pantry asks that students give at least a day’s notice.

Marrs encourages those interested in donating to visit the pantry’s Amazon Wish List, which can be located under the name UNO Privateer Pantry. The pantry also accepts drop-off donations. Marrs emphasizes that items donated should be non-expired and non-perishable. Faculty and staff looking to contribute have the option of payroll deducting through the UNO Foundation: Privateer Pantry.

“The ability to lighten a student’s load” is the most rewarding part of the operating the service, according to Laiche. “There’s so much to worry about between school, work and family obligations that being able to provide just a few food basics to ease the burden is very uplifting,” said Laiche.

While the pantry will continue to remain open as long as the need exists, Laiche hopes that eventually there will be no need for it. But in the meantime, she hopes that they can one day “provide fresh ingredients like vegetables and fruits.”

On Thursday, Feb. 7, the pantry will be opened again between 11:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. at UC 248.