St. Eugene School taps into Panther Pride, collects for UWM Food Pantry

When UWM employee Kevin Beisser found out about the near-empty shelves of the UWM Food Pantry, he approached his son’s principal at St. Eugene School in Fox Point. How about a food drive? After all, the schools shared a mascot, the panther.

The principal, Rebecca Jones, loved the idea.

“We are always looking for ways to help the greater community,” Jones said. “Service is a big part of our school culture.”

Beisser, a senior immigration coordinator at UWM, named the food drive “Panthers Helping Panthers.”

St. Eugene students, parents and staff were encouraged to bring in non-perishable food items Feb. 25 and 26. The donations filled about 20 grocery bags. The next day, Beisser picked up the donations and dropped them off at the food pantry.

A 400 percent increase in demand this semester cleared much of the shelves of the UWM Food Pantry, said Quincy Kissack, who helps run the pantry.

Kissack has noticed there are certain times in the month and the semester that the food pantry is extra busy.

“Rent is typically due the first week of the month, so we see an uptick at that time, or at the end of the month in anticipation,” Kissack said. “The beginning of the semester is also highly trafficked as students pay their tuition bills, fees, and for books.”

More than 500 students have utilized the food pantry since it opened a year ago.

The inspiration for opening a food pantry arose from a 2016 campuswide survey of students that found that half had had concerns about where their next meal was coming from during the previous six months.

The UWM Food Pantry recently won the Regents Diversity award from the UW System Board of Regents for its efforts to eliminate food insecurity on campus.

There are two ways to donate to the UWM Food Pantry: in kind or monetary donations. Donations of non-perishable food items, hygienic products and canned goods can be left in the donation box outside of the Student Association office, EG79 in the Student Union.

Monetary donations can be made by checks or online. Checks are to be made out to UWM Foundation with “UWM Food Center & Pantry” in the memo line. Online donations can be made on the “Advancing UWM” webpage by listing the recipient as “UWM Food Center & Pantry.”

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