A key part of the SHOP food pantry expansion was expected to be completed during the winter break, but construction crews encountered some unexpected delays, pushing back the Jan. 8 reopening plan. The pantry must remain closed, with its north wall open to the next room.
The student health and wellness team took the news in stride and quickly developed a plan to provide temporary mobile pantry delivery services until stores reopened. April Lopez, food security and basic needs specialist, said they plan to provide prepackaged grocery bags to students.
Then it was Mother Nature’s turn to throw a curve ball.
Snowstorms on January 9 and January 11 disrupted Iowa Food Bank’s scheduled deliveries to SHOP. The outage meant approximately 5,000 pounds of food orders would not be delivered in time for SHOP’s original mobile food bank delivery schedule.
“Initially, there was a little bit of panic,” Lopez said. “We had a backup plan, and then we had to change plans again. Fortunately, we were able to react quickly because of our strategic partnerships with ISU Dining and Fareway.”
The team worked with ISU Dining to develop a plan to expand the Give A Swipe program and provide students with two meals at the ISU Dining Center while the store is closed. The free meals are made possible through donor support from Danny O’Neal and Carla O’Neal.
A way to support SHOP
If you would like to support SHOP, improve the food pantry or help purchase food for the pantry shelves, you can donate through the ISU Foundation SHOP Fund.
“When I look back on my days at Iowa State University, I’m reminded of great memories that changed the course of my life,” said Danny O’Neill. “Thankfully, food insecurity was not something I had to endure. One Thinking about the struggles of ISU students makes me want to help in any way I can. If each of us can do just a little bit, we can eliminate this situation today.”
In addition to the Give a Swipe program, the Student Health and Wellness Center distributed $25 gift cards to Fareway. Despite closed doors, SHOP served 300 students and their families over two days.
“It’s great to see people stepping up and making things happen,” said Erin Baldwin, vice president for student health and wellness and director of the Thielen Student Health Center. “Every time we have a student in need, people are quick to help and make sure we can support our students.”
The expansion will provide space for additional needs
The SHOP expansion is one of 19 strategic plan projects receiving funding in fiscal year 2024. The additional space will allow SHOP to keep more fresh food. Campus and community partners will also have space to meet with students to identify additional resources available to help them succeed at Iowa State.
“Our strategic plan focuses on becoming the most student-centered, leading research university,” said Brian Vanderheyden, director of student health. “The expansion, and the campus community’s determination to overcome these recent obstacles, perfectly illustrates Iowa State’s commitment to this mission.”
The store reopened on Wednesday 17 January. While work to open the walls is complete, crews are still laying down flooring, new shelves and other renovation projects in the space, Lopez said.