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Sarah Easterly, left, and Garrin Williams are both SGA Food Insecurity Committee Members who help students struggling with food needs.

Pete’s Pantry helps OSU students with free food and more

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Media Contact: Mack Burke | Editorial Coordinator | 405-744-5540 | editor@okstate.edu

As Cowboys, we are all part of the same family. So when a nutrition graduate student found that 43% of OSU students in 2018 had struggled with food insecurity in the last year, the Cowboy family rallied to take care of its own.

Almost four years later, this initiative continues to grow with students and community members meeting this critical need through Pete’s Pantry.

A unique partnership involving Leadership and Campus Life, Our Daily Bread and the Student Government Association, Pete’s Pantry is a free food and resource pantry curated for student needs.

“We began working on this model to create a space where we were able to provide food that was similar to what someone could access by going to Our Daily Bread, but in a more studentfriendly model,” said John Mark Day, the director of leadership and campus life and chair of the Basic Needs Task Force.

The pantry began as an SGA pop-up pantry in the student body vice president’s office in 2019. It grew into the conference room as the pandemic moved classes online in 2020. It began to transition toward a resource center as it expanded to meet students’ needs with students donating coats during the ice storm in spring 2021 and the Red Pantry Committee supplying the pantry with free menstrual hygiene products.

“I think it’s incredible how the pantry can morph to meet students’ needs,” said Lara Hays, the SGA food insecurity director. “That’s our heart behind it, to meet students wherever they’re at to the best of our ability.”

Along with supporting the pantry, the Basic Needs Task Force collaborated with Our Daily Bread to schedule OSU Nights at Our Daily Bread the third Thursday of each month and Our Daily Bread mobile market traveling to the OSU Family Resource Center.

Rachael Condley, director of Our Daily Bread, said the partnership encapsulates both ODB and OSU goals: to meet the needs of students and empower them to choose what they want to eat.

“As [the Basic Needs Task Force and Our Daily Bread] dreams and goals collided, we were able to share each other’s strengths and meet students’ food needs,” Condley said. “We want to make sure that people are empowered to choose what they eat; that’s our heart for ODB, mobile market and our partnership with Pete’s Pantry, too. It’s such a fantastic initiative and I know we are all working hard to find what are the exact needs of the students and how we best meet those.”

Now, through the tireless efforts of the Basic Needs Task Force, SGA and Our Daily Bread, the initiative is continuing to grow and preparing to transition to a new location with refrigeration and freezers, more stocking options and continued space for the Red Pantry health and hygiene products as well.

Hays said she’s excited for this expansion and the opportunity for more students to be impacted and involved.

“When I was younger and didn’t finish my food, I would hear the phrase I’m sure we’re all familiar with: ‘There are starving kids in Africa who would love to have that,’” Hays said. “But there are starving kids in your hometown, too. Being a part of these initiatives is something simple that you can do to have a positive impact on the people immediately surrounding you.”

Pete’s Pantry shows the deep care the community and university have for OSU students, Day said.

“If students are hungry, they’re not going to be successful on campus,” Day said. “This has been an exciting project to work on because everyone immediately sees the need and is excited to get involved. Pete’s Pantry is a perfect example of the way our community comes together to provide care and support for the Cowboy family.”


Photos By: Gary Lawson

Story By: Kylee Sutherland | STATE Magazine

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