From the Desk of William Stackman, Vice Provost for Student Affairs
I’m continually humbled by the compassion I see in the Mizzou community. Take the volunteers at our campus food pantry, for example.
On a recent weekday, a handful of volunteers from MizzouRec turned up at Tiger Pantry’s new location in the Hitt Street Parking Structure to load packaged groceries for curbside pickup and delivery.
The COVID-19 pandemic has put Tiger Pantry in the spotlight, said Tiger Pantry director Mathew Swan, a Mizzou senior. “There are lot of people reaching out trying to volunteer with us and help us,” he said. “I think it’s a time where everyone realizes they need help.”
Kevin Raher is the RecSports coordinator at MizzouRec. He saw volunteering as an opportunity to contribute in a time of need. “It’s a rewarding feeling, even with social distancing, to be able to provide for people that need it more than we do,” he said.
Volunteering with Raher was Esther Ellis, membership and guest services coordinator at MizzouRec. For her, volunteering was a matter of “being able to give back and help people who need assistance.”
To maintain social distancing, volunteers work apart in different stations inside the pantry. “For example, they will all have different aisles that they can walk down to grab the orders,” said Colleen Spurlock, a graduate student and advisor to Tiger Pantry.
“We require all volunteers to wear gloves at all times inside the pantry. I also check everyone’s temperature before they enter the pantry.”
Tiger Pantry volunteers only recently received masks. Community members have donated some home-sewn masks for them, and University Hospital has donated masks as well.
More people are interested in volunteering, but demand for Tiger Pantry’s services has doubled.
“In the past week, we’ve had about 30 new users,” Spurlock said. “We normally don’t see any more than 10 new users a month.”
Like much else, lately, supporting Tiger Pantry also can be done online. Community members can raise awareness by sharing Tiger Pantry’s posts on social media and telling their friends about the service.
If you’re interested in volunteering at Tiger Pantry, email Spurlock. If you want to help but don’t have the time to volunteer, consider donating through Mizzou Give Direct. Monetary donations will fund purchasing of produce and perishable items during a time when food drives are not an option.