SHOP students serving students

In February 2011, a food pantry on campus, especially one run entirely by students, was a fresh idea. A group of transfer students who were passionate about food and helping their peers made the dream a reality. For current leaders of the Students Helping Our Peers (SHOP) food pantry on campus, ensuring fellow students have access to food remains priority number one.

“It is really important to us to continue the founding principle of anonymity so that we don’t make our peers uncomfortable. College students sometimes have a hard time seeking help and we don’t want any barriers, especially with our fellow students,” says Belinda Heckman, a senior in global resource systems and dietetics, who serves as president of SHOP.

First based in the Food Sciences Building, SHOP moved across campus to Beyer Hall in 2020. The new location offers more space, nearly three and a half times more, and easier accessibility for clients and volunteers.

“The new location is so much bigger. It’s also close to a major CyRide stop and near student apartments,” says Caroline Stokes, senior in microbiology and genetics and vice president of SHOP. “None of this would have been possible if not for our amazing partners on campus and in the community.”

The location in Beyer was provided by Recreation Services. The new space has allowed students to expand food offerings to better serve their clients.

“It was really exciting to get refrigerators and a freezer to be able to offer nutritious things like fresh produce, dairy and meat to users of SHOP,” Heckman says.

SHOP served an average of 35 students per week during spring 2021. Over the same period, a total of more than 6,800 pounds of food was provided by SHOP, far more than any other semester. Food is donated to SHOP by members of the campus community or purchased with monetary donations.

Student volunteers use knowledge from their classes and interests in sustainability to establish and maintain food safety practices and counter food waste. They also gain valuable experience in managing and communicating with volunteers. Students recently created a series of videos to train volunteers to ensure the same positive experience for everyone.

Partners from across campus support SHOP. Faculty and staff fill in for students as needed, such as volunteering to staff during prep and finals weeks as well as during breaks. Student Health and Wellness provided connections and support, ISU Dining assisted in moving SHOP to Beyer and staff in the Department of Residence helped determine the new layout.

“Keeping students in leadership roles for the food pantry was really important as we began to support their efforts and help them grow to serve all students in need,” says Lisa Nolting, dietitian with Student Health and Wellness.

Connect. Engage. Share.

Student volunteers helped provide more than 6,800 pounds of food to their peers during spring 2021 in effort to fight food insecurity on campus. To support the Students Helping Our Peers (SHOP) food pantry on campus make a donation online via the ISU Foundation website or call 515-294-7677.