Student-Run Pantry Celebrates Five Years and 200+ Volunteers

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AMES, Iowa -- A student-run food pantry celebrates five years of serving the Iowa State University campus. The organization wants to give to others in honor of its big birthday.

You'll find lots of cans of green beans and packages of ramen noodles lining the shelves of a small room in the Food Sciences building on campus.

"We are the SHOP, and it stands for students helping our peers," said Heather Van Wyk.

Van Wyk is the president of the student-run organization. A group of food science and human nutrition students opened the SHOP in February of 2011.

“They just really wanted to reduce any prevalence of hunger on campus, and so they saw the need for some students that live off campus or don't have a meal plan," Van Wyk explained.

Over 200 volunteers help in various ways. At first, the SHOP served about 10 students a week. It's now up to 90 students. "I think just having it easily accessible for students knowing that it's anonymous. No one is going to shame them

"I think just having it easily accessible for students knowing that it's anonymous. No one is going to shame them for coming here. I think it's really important they have that option," said Publicity Chair Daniel Rincon-Perez.

The organization is hosting a campus-wide food drive to celebrate its anniversary. The group put out bins at five locations throughout campus. Organizers hope to collect many items, including some that are really needed. Van Wyk said, "Granola bars, fruit snacks, chips, you know things college students actually really enjoy and eat."

"Granola bars, fruit snacks, chips, you know things college students actually really enjoy and eat," Van Wyk said.

They're also looking for cereal, oatmeal, and soup, along with toiletries and other non-food items.

"An item that's interesting that had been requested is diapers and things for babies because there are families that live off campus, that maybe students as well that could use that," said Van Wyk.

The goal is to help fellow students in a time of need.

"For the most part, I think people are glad to just have this to make sure, be happy that dinner probably won't cost too much tonight and make sure they have a little extra funds at the end of the month to help with college," said Rincon-Perez.

In addition to the food drive, the SHOP will have an open house on Thursday from 3 to 6 p.m. It's located at 2616 in the Food Sciences building. Anyone who donates two non- perishable food or personal care items will get a shop t-shirt while supplies last.