UF food pantry receives $25,000 donation from local business partners

The University of Florida’s food pantry has received a donation of $25,000 from local partners to ensure that no student or faculty goes hungry through the upcoming holiday season.

The lump sum of money was donated in a collaboration between PepsiCo and Winn-Dixie who were supporting UF’s Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field and Fork Pantry, located at 520 Newell Drive.

“I’m just so grateful,” said Roselind Brown, assistant director of Hitchcock Field and Fork Pantry. “It’s nice to know we have a little cushion. We are fully donor-operated and donor based so it’s wonderful to have these funds, and the in-kind donations, as well.”

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Eddie Daniels, assistant vice president for Business Services, said $5,000 from the donation went towards the food that was pulled off the trucks and $20,000 will go towards vouchers that the food pantry can use to purchase food.

Representatives from PepsiCo and Winn Dixie could be seen unloading truckloads of food and stocking shelves with seasonings, ramen, tuna, boxes of mac and cheese, peanut butter and loaves of bread.

Daniels said there are students on UF’s campus who are struggling with food insecurity sometimes go unnoticed.

“Being food insecure doesn’t necessarily mean being on the street and not knowing where your next meal is going to come from, it could just mean a student’s not having as much as they’d like to eat on a daily basis,” Daniels said.

Heather White, vice president of student life, said the issue is tied to rising costs of food, not just in Florida but nationally. She also said the past two hurricanes have also had an impact on costs.

The food pantry saw a 200% increase in usage this year in comparison to the previous year, White said.

According to the Food Price Outlook, a report that analyzes prices of goods, were predicted to increase between 9.5 and 10%.

The supplies given will make sure that the pantry is stocked for the rest of the year and going into next year.

“This is what I call a game changer as we prepare and make sure that we have adequate food and supplies for all of our campus community,” White said.

Brown said the fact the pantry received the donations before the winter holidays is even more beneficial to the community, especially for students who are unable to go home.

"A lot of the food items here are food items that need to be cooked, so they can make a home-cooked meal while they’re still here,” Brown said.

The food pantry is only available to UF students and faculty. In order to purchase food items from the pantry students must show their student ID. Community donations in non-perishable foods and monetary donations are accepted.

This article originally appeared on The Gainesville Sun: UF food pantry receives donation from Pepsi, local business partners