Peek into the Pard Pantry: How one organization has helped students through the pandemic

pard+pantry

Run by students and faculty, the Pard Pantry will likely be a long-term addition to the Lafayette Community. (Photo by Pierson White ’24).

Nathan Kornfeind

For nearly two years, the Pard Pantry has helped students in need by providing food, hygiene products and other items free of cost.  And now, in the midst of the pandemic, its services are more vital than ever.

Situated in the basement of Farinon next to the Student Government office, the Pantry is currently packed with foodstuffs and other necessities, with colorful boxes lining the tables and shelves. It wasn’t always like this, however. When Special Assistant to the Vice President for Campus Life Riley Godshall first had the idea for the Pantry,  it was because she had been hearing about students on campus having difficulty accessing food over breaks.

“In my head, the solution did not sound too daunting: open a ‘food pantry’ for a few days before breaks occurred, and over winter and summer open it every few weeks so students had more regular access to supplies,” Goodshall wrote in an email. 

After organizing the first Pard Pantry in Fall 2019, Goodshall passed the bulk of the responsibility to the equity & inclusion committee of student government. Godshall praised the efforts of the committee and one of its members in particular, president-elect Flor De Maria Caceres Godoy ’22.

Goodshall noted that the committee ensured the Pantry was stocked with supplies, spread the word around campus and kept it open much more regularly than she expected after taking over. 

“At the time, the Pantry was completely donation based,” she wrote. “We had some boxes outside of a few dorms and offices, several Greek life chapters pitched in to donate, and then several students, faculty and staff dropped off supplies outside of the Student Government Office.” 

“[Assistant Director of Food & Farm] Lisa Miskelly from LaFarm even dropped off fresh produce at the first installation of the Pard Pantry. It was really heartwarming to see the community come together to support students who were in need of the extra food!” Godshall added.

The Pard Pantry assumed a crucial role in Spring 2020. As the COVID-19 Pandemic spread and the extended spring break turned into remote learning for the rest of the semester, about 160 students remained on campus without a full-service grocery store within walking distance of College Hill.  

“When we first went into quarantine in March 2020, it became obvious that it would be difficult for students to get necessary food and hygiene items,” Director of Religious & Spiritual Life Rev. Alex M. Hendrickson, who is the project’s main administrator, wrote in an email.

“It was also difficult to receive donations on-campus, as all campus buildings were closed–including the post office–and then were only open on a limited basis,” Hendrickson said.

Accordingly, the Hendrickson household became the logistical hub for all donations through the summer and on a more limited basis through this academic year. 

“My youngest son spent hours unboxing and organizing the donations and my husband, [Associate Professor of Religious Studies Brett Hendrickson] said that our dining room looked like the stockroom at a CVS!” Hendrickson wrote. 

The Pard Pantry continued into this semester even as most students returned to residence life and dining services resumed. Godoy noted that the Pantry expanded to meet other necessities and help students in need.  

“We realize that even without the pandemic being here, students still need access to resources. For example, if they don’t have the chance to go to a grocery store, or if they don’t have the money, then we can provide these things for them for free,” she said. 

Godoy intends to keep the Pard Pantry going beyond her years at Lafayette. She said she also hopes that with a loosening of COVID-19 restrictions, more students can become involved in running the project.

Until then, Godoy praised the unique role of the Pantry on campus.  

“Pard Pantry has become a place where students can come and visit one another,” she said. “It’s definitely been a wonderful place where people can just gather, take a little break from their studies, get their snacks, and get stocked up on things that they may need. Being able to connect with students even throughout the whole pandemic, I think that’s one of my biggest accomplishments.” 

The Pard Pantry welcomes the donation of meal, snack and hygiene items. In addition to donation boxes located at Farinon, Simon Center, Acopian, and the Kirby Hall of Civil Rights, community members can arrange a drop-off of donations with Hendrickson by emailing [email protected]