UW food pantry struggles to meet demand that goes beyond students
The University of Washington is seeing record numbers of people using its food pantry. It’s trying to keep the shelves stocked as demand grows.
Last fall quarter, the UW Food Pantry served more than 1,600 people who made 3,642 visits to pick up canned food, organic produce, ready-to-eat items and hygiene products — all free of charge. This quarter it’s on track to exceed those numbers. Initially the program was created for students. Now it’s extended to anyone with a Husky ID card, including staff and faculty.
“It became evident that the issue was campuswide,” said Alex Silver, the pantry's student director. Silver estimated that 10% of pantry visitors are non-students. Like many area food pantries, the UW program is trying to keep up with demand.
“We’ve had moments, especially in the past year where the shelves were almost empty,” Silver said. He said this year they continue to need shelf-stable items, especially canned protein.
The pantry started as a pop-up, but demand kept growing. In 2018, it became a permanent program.