The University of South Florida Sarasota-Manatee campus opened a new food pantry on Monday, March 30, to address food insecurity among some of its students during the COVID-19 pandemic. The university's“Support-a-Bull Pantry” will be sustained by campus donations and Sarasota-based All Faiths Food Bank, which will provide non-perishable items. Students who wish to sign up to receive donations or make a contribution can click here to register. The pantry, which is accessible to students and their families, was created by Allison Dinsmore, assistant director of student success at the Sarasota-Manatee campus; Bart Stucker, coordinator of orientation and recreation programs; and the campus’ Food and Housing Insecurity Committee, made up of students, faculty and staff. The pantry is designed to operate simply and confidentially. Students—who are currently required to remain off-campus through May 7—can shop for groceries through an online portal and then pick up items at a discreet campus site. A worker will distribute the items in plain packaging at a curbside location. In response to concerns about COVID-19, workers packaging and distributing food will observe health and safety precautions, including social distancing. Students picking up items are urged to do the same.
In addition to the pantry, USF Sarasota-Manatee is making additional social services available to students. Students with health and wellness concerns are urged to contact the campus’ Counseling and Wellness Center, which is shared with New College of Florida. A special and separate appeal is also being made to USF Sarasota-Manatee faculty and staff to support the pantry and other student programs through monetary donations during the annual faculty and staff giving campaign, which runs through July.