Food center and pantry helps students stretch their budgets

Ever-hungry college students are a comedy cliché, but real-life hunger can be a serious issue for students.

UWM’s Food Center and Pantry is seeing a steady increase in the number of students seeking support. The pantry serves approximately 300 students and distributes around 4,000 pounds of food a week, according to Allie Dorshorst, basic needs coordinator in the Dean of Students office. That’s up from about 1,500 pounds per week from spring of 2022. The increase comes after the pantry moved to a new, more accessible location on the ground floor of the Student Union along Maryland Avenue.

The food pantry grew out of a 2016 campus-wide Student Association survey on food insecurity that showed roughly 50% of UWM students reported not having enough food to eat. As a result, the university opened a food pantry in January 2018 on the third floor of the union. The pantry continued to offer bags of food for pickup through the pandemic and has expanded its offerings.

“Our fresh and frozen items are always really popular,” Dorshorst said.

The campus Office of Sustainability also supports the pantry, providing food from campus gardens during the growing season. In January 2023, the Food Center and Pantry began offering diapers and sanitary supplies through a partnership with the Milwaukee Diaper Mission.

“We do have quite a few student parents who use the pantry, so diapers are always something they are looking for,” Dorshorst said.

The pantry is open four days a week, with hours posted on the food pantry webpage: Tuesdays and Wednesdays are by appointment, and Thursday and Friday for walk-ins. Each visitor can receive one bag of food per visit and needs to present a UWM ID or active university email.

For students who need additional resources, the website also provides a list of other food pantries in the area and information on the schedule of the Hunger Task Force Mobile Market.

And, on Oct. 30, a representative from Feeding America will be on hand at the pantry from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. to pre-screen students to see if they’re eligible for the Wisconsin FoodShare program.

The food pantry works with Feeding America Southeast Wisconsin to order food as needed but welcomes donations from the UWM community and others.

Some high needs items are posted on the pantry’s Amazon wish list and on social media.

  • Donors can also order food and other needed items through their own Amazon account, and have the items delivered to 2200 E. Kenwood Blvd., ATTN: Food Center & Pantry, Milwaukee, WI 53211.
  • Another option is to donate money through the UWM Foundation. Go to edu/give, click “Give Now,” Select the “Other Funds” box and enter “food pantry” in the search box.

Volunteers are also welcome. If you would like to volunteer or have questions, message UWM Food Center and Pantry at or through Facebook.

The UWM at Waukesha campus also has a food pantry with shelf-stable items.

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