The Store wins inaugural fundraising competition to fight food insecurity
By Jackson Hare, Education and Enrichment Coordinator
During the Crosstown Foodout, a friendly competition and cooperative effort between Xavier University and the University of Cincinnati’s campus food pantries between Dec. 5th-10th, Xavier’s The Store raised over $50,000 to completely revamp their services to address food insecurity on campus.
Located in the Village Apartments, in addition to several satellite locations scattered across campus, The Store is Xavier University’s student-run food pantry, providing students with access to free food, hygiene, and household products.
During the Crosstown Shootout, The Store partnered with the University of Cincinnati’s food pantry, Bearcats Pantry to face off to see which pantry could gain the most support.
“It was a friendly competition, we weren’t taking it that seriously for the first year, however– we blew them out,” boasted Natalie Weekly, Assistant Director of Care Management Services.
Students could support their respective campus pantries in a variety of ways, including following their social media accounts, placing an order of their pantries Amazon wishlist, or by making a monetary donation.
“Through that initiative we were able to get over 200 Amazon orders and we were able to raise $50,000, which is so exciting and is really going to help with the renovations planned,” said Weekly.
Addressing the confusion that occurred after Instagram posts from the Store suggested it was being renovated, Weekly clarified that renovations are still on the docket.
“We had some damage over winter break due to the snow storm. There was some flooding that impacted walls, flooring, and damaged some of our overstock area, so we had to close for a repair and not renovations unfortunately. But, they are coming. Renovations will be happening late spring semester or early summer.”
On top of the anticipated renovations, the Store’s social media presence on Instagram has grown by an additional 143 followers as a result of the Crosstown Foodout, contributing to the growing excitement and movement taking place to address food security on campus. Graduate assistant for Care Management Services, Kwasi Burgin believes this to be indicative of the communal aspect at Xavier.
“A lot of people had no idea that 30 percent of students on this campus identify as having food insecurity, which a lot of students respond really strongly to because they care about their community,” said Burgin.
Along with other students on campus, he too is excited for the changes coming to the Store. “We’re going to add new shelving so we can have even more stock available for students, we are adding a real stock area so our overstock isn’t out in the open, and we are planning on repainting, so it’s going to be a complete revamp of the space and it should look beautiful,” revealed Burgin.
In addition to more storage space, the newly renovated space is set to include more refrigerated storage and more tabling to enable the Store to host more events.
Weekly highlights that these renovations will be crucial to better serve students at Xavier. She speculated that the state of economy has significantly impacted many Xavier students’ financial security, bringing an increased demand for the Store’s services.
“Over this past year, we’ve seen a 3000 percent increase in utilization, and it’s due to several factors. First, increased accessibility. Beforehand the Store used to only be open 3-5pm on Fridays, but now it’s available by All Card access daily from 8am to 11pm. I also think the inflation now is really crazy and impacting students. It’s just expensive to be a human and to be a college student on top of that, it can be very difficult,” emphasized Weekly.
Despite the Store’s recent success and growing awareness around campus through social media, the Store has stressed the need for student volunteers interested in serving the Xavier community. The Store has begun its Store Ambassador program this past Monday to get students involved.
“We really need some consistent volunteers to help out. We’re really only looking for a time commitment of 1-5 hours weekly, and there’s a variety of options to help build a brand, bring awareness, and accessibility to The Store,” said Weekly.
“It means a great deal to me that The Store is being renovated. Seeing Xavier’s services improve is what makes me love this school, and it’s heartwarming to see the Xavier community invest in making The Store better. I’m sure other students appreciate it like I do,” junior business analytics and marketing double major Ella Ongoto, said.