UTD’s first food pantry, the Comet Cupboard, has seen significant growth since opening last October and looks to play an even larger role for the community in the coming 2013 semesters.
The Comet Cupboard provides food to students in need through donations of money and non-perishable food. All currently enrolled students may take up to four items per day from the pantry, which is located in the basement of the McDermott Library, though some commodities such as peanut butter and boxes of cereal count as two items.
“We are open 3:30 p.m. through 6:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and we are looking to expand our hours and go further beyond that,” program coordinator Hillary Campbell said. “Common feedback is that we need to be open a little bit earlier and a little bit later to accommodate class schedules.”
Extended hours at the Comet Cupboard would not only increase the availability of needed food to students, but would increase the opportunities available for UTD students to be involved in their community and volunteer. The Cupboard hopes to have opportunities in the future for volunteers to pick up food from food drives and from future drop-off sites they plan to install around campus.
“Right now, we are only getting our food from donations and those food drives that are being conducted by campus departments or student groups,” Campbell said, later adding that the Comet Cupboard was looking into options for working with the campus community gardens to provide fresher food and more options to students in need.
In addition to assisting those who are food insecure, the Comet Cupboard also acts as a service learning opportunity for students on campus.
“It has definitely just taken off, not only for users, but also for volunteers,” Courtney Brecheen, Assistant Dean in the Office of Undergraduate Education, said. “We have a lot of volunteers that are pending to go through training and help us in the spring. It’s a matter of accommodating everyone who wants to help, which is a nice problem to have.”
Monetary donations are another way that people can support the Comet Cupboard. While checks and cash are welcome, the program recently added the ability to accept donations online through their website. The program is able to use the funds that are donated to provide a more steady and balanced inventory for its users.
“External marketing is our biggest expansion that we’ll be taking on in the spring in terms of the community beyond UTD,” Brecheen said. “We have a lot of private industry and local businesses who support the university in several ways and might be interested in adopting this initiative as philanthropy or supporting it in some fashion.”
More information on donating, volunteering, or using the Comet Cupboard is available from their website at http://oue.UTDallas.edu/Cupboard