Trying to decide between paying for gas so you can get to school or paying for your classes before the next $125 – or, gulp, $175– late fee gets slapped on your Seawolf account? Or buying groceries so you have energy to work and think, or paying your internet bill so you can access Black Board? Are you trying to avoid asking your parents for help before this paycheck ends, but you desperately need some shampoo and basic supplies?
The Seawolf Food Pantry may not be able to fix all your problems, but it can help ease them. Appropriately nestled in the UAA College of Health Student Success Center in Professional Studies Building next to the Wendy Williamson Auditorium, The Northern Light spoke to assistant professor in dianetics & nutrition Amanda Walch.
Walch said that nearly 45% of Seawolves are experiencing some form of food insecurity. Students had been able to exclusively get food from the Emergency Food Cache, but that was only convenience foods like ramen and noodles for one person. The Seawolf Food Pantry was in the works as covid hit, and was put on hold, finally opening in March 2022.
Now students can access the Cache and the Seawolf Food Pantry, with one visit to the Cache and two to the Pantry every month.
Walch, whose background is food insecurity and low income and / or disadvantaged individuals said that UAF and UAS have had them for several years. She said that the food pantry at the Student Success Center is more than nonperishable food, it has some necessities that students may need as well, such as shampoo and conditioners, feminine hygiene products, and school supplies including highlighters, pens and notebooks.
“It really depends on what is available when students come in,” she said.
“Students come in, fill out a form, tell us how many are in their household, and get to choose.” She showed TNL the room – a little bit bigger than a large closet – stocked with canned fruits and vegetables, proteins – such as tuna, peanut butter, and canned meats – and breakfast items, including oatmeal and boxed cereals. A shelf had boxed milk, along with nut milks for students who have a preference. A drawer was opened to reveal cake mixes and some kitchenware, among other items.
“Students need basics,” she said, picking up a pan, “If they are hungry, they might not have money for kitchen basics.”
The food pantry gives a 3-day supply of food items, and household members do not have to all be UAA students. All items are put into reusable shopping bags, the kind you buy in the store for a couple of dollars, “so no one knows why they have come.”
Walch said that there has been no age limit on patronage.
“Students use the pantry because they are working less hours since they are full time and want to succeed in school – to ultimately gain a better life. They also use the pantry because they have families and when you are a student it's difficult to pay all the bills, and take care of children/childcare, when the focus is on school. Other reasons are because they are in a pinch one month. Another is because they had to go to the doctor or take care of another need and this took away from money they would have otherwise spent on food. Those are ones that come to mind first.”
She said that they communicate with the Alaska Food Bank, but that they are not partners. The Alaska Food Bank requires paperwork on family members, but the UAA pantry just has students note their name,student number, number of people in their household and their class standing. This means that students can access the Cache, the Seawolf Pantry, and the Alaska Food Bank if needed.
For UAA students and staff who do not need to use the Seawolf Food Pantry and want to contribute, remember that the pantry has no refrigeration. All items must be non perishable, and that kitchen utensils, feminine hygiene products, and school supplies are also needed.
If you have any questions or want to make a donation, more information can be found on their website.
Their email is email@example.com, and hours of operation are Mondays from 11 a.m. to 12 p.m.