Loma Shares: PLNU’s Student Food Pantry

The food pantry is held outside the ARC. All photos by Ashlee Owings.

PLNU’s first ever food pantry for students, known as Loma Shares, debuted on April 6. It will be open every week for the rest of the spring semester on Mondays from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and Tuesdays from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. 

Students are allowed to sign in once a week to receive their bag of groceries, no questions asked. All they need to do is bring their student ID card and fill out a short Google form, which collects data to determine how Loma Shares can provide for students moving forward.

According to an email from Resident Director of Goodwin Hall, Jong Yoon, one of the questions in the form asks for students’ majors. 

“If we discover that 85% of the students that come are commuters, veterans or nursing students, then it can help us strategize new ways to reach out to the certain demographics of students that present a higher need,” Yoon said via email. 

“Food insecurity is widely understood in higher education as this ‘hidden identity’ because it’s really difficult to pull data from. The unseen nature can make it difficult to know which students need assistance. Collecting good data will allow us to have better eyes to see the students that feel invisible,” Yoon said.

The ASB Board of Directors, Residential Life, Commuter Services, Professor Lindsey Lupo and Yoon helped make Loma Shares possible. It has been an ongoing project for six months. 

“I worked pretty heavily along with Dr. Lindsey Lupo, Dr. Jake Gilbertson, dean of students and director of residential life, and our vision was to combat food insecurity and one of the ways to do that is by creating pop-up pantries on campus to help feed students,” Yoon said. 

According to an email from Gilbertson, studies show that 40% of all college students experience food insecurity at some point during their time in college. Food insecurity can have detrimental effects, such as dropping or failing courses or feeling powerless. 

Student volunteers at Loma Shares.

Lydia Sunberg, a sophomore and a volunteer at the Loma Shares grand opening, said, “Food insecurity can create stress for students so this is a beautiful place where we can help aid in that and to give out food for those who need it.”

Studies also show that food insecure students also tend to be socially isolated and experience shame or embarrassment, which is why Loma Shares has a no-questions-asked policy when students come to receive food. 

“Regarding anonymity, though we want to be supremely careful in helping students understand that we will never share the information they provide, nor would we advertise without their permission their use of the food pantry, we do want to make it clear our goal is to help educate Loma altogether,” Yoon said. “Rather than anonymity being the ultimate goal, we want to normalize food insecurity and the need for food assistance as much as possible. In the same way ten years ago, talking about going to counseling felt taboo, now it’s more widely accepted not as ‘something is wrong with you’ but instead it’s something to be celebrated that one is able to receive needed help.”

Yoon said his dream is that “students would one day feel the safety to walk up to Loma Shares and be celebrated as courageous for taking the necessary steps to receive resources provided for them.” 

By: Ashlee Owings