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Ram Pantry Opens Its Doors in New Space

Story By: Ashleigh Panoo, Editor-in-chief

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The long-awaited and newly designed Ram Pantry opened in the student center on Nov. 27, bringing with it a daily source of free food for Fresno City College students.

Open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Ram Pantry provides canned, bagged, fresh and refrigerated food to students in need.

An official ribbon cutting will take place outside the student center Dec. 1. College president Carole Goldsmith, SCCCD board president John Leal and representatives from the city and county will be in attendance.

Students will need their ID number to check out at Ram Pantry, but a student ID card is not needed, according to Cris Monahan-Bremer, Fresno City College spokeswoman.

Items like instant soup, bottled drinks, boxed food, candy and toiletries were available as of Nov. 29. Each item has a limit, and students are limited to one visit per day.

Student Yolanda Vasquez visited the pantry on its second day of opening and said she likes the new location. “The selection is really good; I like how everything is organized,” Vasquez said. “It’s simpler, kind of like going into a grocery store.”

The Fresno Food Bank, Feeding Fresno and Open Hands Pantry are among the food banks that will help stock the shelves at the Ram Pantry, but donations are also accepted, Monahan-Bremer said.

Food and toiletry donations can be dropped off at the student lounge. Canned, dry and packaged food are accepted as well as fresh fruits and vegetables.

Monetary donations are also needed. Cash and checks are accepted in the business office, or online by credit card. Employees can also agree to a payroll deduction for the pantry.

Faculty, staff, students and the community are encouraged to volunteer. Shifts, beginning at one hour, are available, according to the college website. Volunteers will assist with stocking shelves, bagging student’s groceries, and other duties. Volunteers will need a TB test, to attend orientation and fill out paperwork before starting. Those interested in volunteering should email [email protected].

The Remodeling

Before opening, the space was power washed, the windows were cleaned and the floors were painted red to include a large logo near the doorway, Monahan-Bremer said. Shelving and refrigeration were installed in the pantry and automatic sliding doors replaced the front entrance of the student center.

The old Pacific Cafe kitchen is covered by a partition donated by the theatre department, Monahan-Bremer said. The kitchen remains intact because the college is expecting an outside retailer–perhaps a restaurant–will eventually occupy the space.

For now, the area outside the pantry is an open space with tables and chairs. Monahan-Bremer said the space has been used for meetings, but students are welcomed to sit when the tables aren’t in use.

History

First opened in January 2016, Ram Pantry set up at the cafeteria every Friday, serving over 3,400 unique students in nearly two years, according to the college’s public information office.

The idea of the Ram Pantry goes back to at least 2011, when an action plan was submitted to the Strategic Planning Council for approval. It was initially thought that the pantry would operate once a month, but with the help of Jennifer Dorian, adjunct faculty and the coordinator of Peer Assisted Study Sessions, the Ram Pantry continued to open weekly.

On average, nearly 200 students visited each Friday, totaling 11,000 visits since its inception. Monahan-Bremer said the pantry began after the realization that many students struggled with food insecurity. It was based on the food pantry at Fresno State.

“We know that many of our young people received a free or reduced breakfast or lunch, coming from Fresno Unified School District,” Goldsmith told The Rampage in February 2017. “It is ludicrous to think that just because you turn 18, your issues with food security go away.”

Sports Editor Jorge Rodriguez contributed to this story.

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Ram Pantry Opens Its Doors in New Space