What first started as a single shelf has evolved into a 400-square-foot food pantry on the Portland State University Campus.
“By 2016, we had a relationship with the Oregon Food Bank and moved into a larger space and immediately exploded in growth,” said Trenna Wilson, the PSU Food Pantry general manager. “Eventually we became a student-operated service. We are run 100% by students, for students. We are constantly adding refrigerator capacity and more and more shelving. I think we deplete and refill those shelves about once a day lately. Our use has really exploded.”
Wilson joined the PSU community last year. She says over the years, the food pantry has adapted and the need as grown.
“During the pandemic, before I was here, the pantry had to change the way it did business several times,” said Wilson. “First, it moved into the 5th Avenue Cinema, one of the other student-operated services, since they had to totally shut down. We borrowed their space, moved in there, and had just a window. People could come up to the window and look around. There was also some effort to ship students packages of dry goods. We then moved back into our normal space once the campus opened again. It’s just been the last spring and summer that we’ve begun to normalize. I started in July. We haven’t known what to expect, but by fall we were close to pre-pandemic numbers and the last week or so we’ve been exceeding those numbers. During the fall, we averaged 93 students a day while classes were in session. In the summer, by comparison, we’d seen between 110 to 120 a week.”