When the Food Bank of Northern Nevada (FBNN) recently announced the results of its annual Healthy Pantry Initiative assessment, it took a different approach to recognizing the work done by pantries in the local community. Rather than assigning a score to reflect the distribution of healthy food items, the food bank created seven different categories in which the winners received a certificate and several kitchen items to hand out to students.
The Associated Students of the University of Nevada, Reno (ASUN) Pack Provisions was recognized as the Most Creative Food Pantry in Northern Nevada. The pantry received three crockpots and three single-serving blenders to give out to those within the University community.
ASUN Pack Provisions is a free, on-campus food pantry that supports University faculty, staff and students who are experiencing food insecurity. The pantry provides a variety of products from grocery items, including locally sourced ground beef and produce, to hygiene products such as toothpaste and tampons.
“It is amazing that Pack Provisions has been recognized as the most creative food pantry by the Food Bank of Northern Nevada. We were able to continue supporting the University community during the pandemic with the help of amazing and dedicated volunteers as well as the continued financial support of ASUN and the greater Reno community,” ASUN Pack Provisions Director Sophie Morton said.
According to a 2020 Civic Engagement survey conducted by the University’s Center for Student Engagement, one in four students enrolled at the University reported having experienced (or was currently experiencing) food insecurity. In providing resources like Pack Provisions, students can receive the necessary items that they need to succeed on campus.
“We saw a significant jump in visits during the 2020-21 academic year, when the pandemic first started,” Morton said. “However, this overwhelming community- and statewide-support allowed us to not only continue to provide these services to the student body but to also expand our reach and make the pantry even more accessible than before.”
The pantry relies on donations from multiple sources including partnerships with Wolf Pack Meats and the Desert Farming Initiative, two programs in the University’s College of Agriculture, Biotechnology & Natural Resources.
“This support was essential to the continued success of ASUN Pack Provisions during this uncertain time, as more students and staff were utilizing the pantry more than ever before,” Morton said.
To further its outreach to students, ASUN Pack Provisions recently started tabling at various places on campus to advertise its services and give out fresh bags of produce and other grocery items.
“We are working diligently to bring back in person pantry to help students select their own food items, while also offering the online option,” Center for Student Engagement Outreach Coordinator Hanin Abboud Rodriguez said. “Giving students the choice to choose their own food items will help empower them to make the choices to consume healthier food and also eliminate food waste by encouraging the mindful eating concept.”
Provided by the University’s student government, ASUN, Pack Provisions is located inside of the Center for Student Engagement on the third floor of the Joe Crowley Student Union.