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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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SFCC food pantry serving greater-than-normal student need this summer

Work study student Isidro Rojas takes inventory in the Spokane Falls Community College’s Skitch’s Food Pantry last fallSept. 27, 2019. The pantry, which provides for SFCC students with food insecurity, is serving more students this summer during the pandemic than in summers past.  (COLIN MULVANY/The Spokesman-Review)
Work study student Isidro Rojas takes inventory in the Spokane Falls Community College’s Skitch’s Food Pantry last fallSept. 27, 2019. The pantry, which provides for SFCC students with food insecurity, is serving more students this summer during the pandemic than in summers past. (COLIN MULVANY/The Spokesman-Review)
By Nina Culver For The Spokesman-Review

The Spokane Falls Community College campus may be closed, but the food pantry that serves students in need is still open and doing a booming business.

Skitch’s Food Pantry has been around so long that no one remembers when it began, Director of Student Programs Heather McKenzie Waite said.

“I’ve been with the campus for 16 years and it was there for years before that,” she said. “It’s been around for a really long time.”

Nine years ago, management of the food pantry was taken over by the student government. A student serves as the director of the food bank, but since students aren’t allowed on campus now, McKenzie Waite has been heading up the pantry.

In a typical quarter, the food pantry is open five days a week and serves about 15 to 20 students a week, McKenzie Waite said. In April, the pantry opened for curbside service one day a week. “We have 45 students come through the first week we were open,” she said. “That’s a lot. Over 3,000 pounds of food was distributed.”

During the seven-week spring quarter, the food pantry had 187 visits. Students are allowed to visit twice a month, which is an increase from the three times a quarter that used to be the limit.

The pantry gets its food from a variety of sources.

“We work with Second Harvest and purchase food from them,” McKenzie Waite said. “We also go grocery shopping. We have an inventory list of things students typically need.”

The pantry doesn’t just distribute food. It also has a stock of personal hygiene items on hand, including shampoo, soap, toothpaste, shaving cream, dish soap and feminine products. It also has diapers and wipes for students who are parents of young children.

Students are asked to fill out a form that includes a checklist of items they would like to receive, including milk, cheese, butter, meat and eggs. Students are also asked about dietary restrictions.

There’s even a spot on the form for people to make special requests. McKenzie Waite said efforts are made to accommodate those requests whenever possible. One recipient once said her daughter had a birthday coming up and she would like a cake.

“We just did a cake mix and frosting,” McKenzie Waite said. “It’s a nice way for us to help out.”

The link to the form is online at sfcc.spokane.edu/For-Our-Students/Student-Resources. Forms need to be submitted by Sunday with food pick up on Tuesdays.

Recipients get an email telling them when to arrive and their food is brought to them in the parking lot, McKenzie Waite said.

“It’s a no-touch delivery,” she said.

The food pantry is open for the summer quarter. There are fewer students enrolled in summer classes, but food pantry use is still above normal, McKenzie Waite said. The pantry might see only two students a month in the summer but is now getting eight students a week, she said.

“It’s really busy at the beginning of the quarter and at the end of the quarter,” she said.

The pantry is a vital resource for students who might have limited access to transportation, McKenzie Waite said, and makes learning possible.

“If you don’t have food in your stomach, you can’t concentrate,” she said. “This is a way for us as a college and as a student body to help the students.”

People have been grateful for the help.

“There’s a lot of thank -you’s,” McKenzie Waite said. “It’s hard to find help and ask for help if they don’t know where to go.”

The pantry is limited to enrolled students and recipients are asked to provide their student identification number. The campus partners with Second Harvest for food distributions open to the general public about every six weeks. The next distribution should happen in mid-August, McKenzie Waite said.

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