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According to a survey conducted in 2018, 36% of students at the University of Wyoming deal with food insecurity. Food insecurity, for those who may not know, is defined as “the state of being without reliable access to a sufficient quantity of of affordable, nutritious food.” It is a startling statistic to face, but it is one that the Student Art League is taking head-on by opening of their own food pantry in the Visual Arts Building.
Student Art League (SAL) is an RSO for students enrolled in the visual arts program or who hold an interest in the arts. SAL faculty sponsor Shelby Shadwell was always brainstorming ideas on how to utilize the groups resources for service projects and expand its outreach into the community. Among the many resources of the visual arts building was an underutilized kitchen, originally intended to house a coffee bar or another source of dining similar to those in other campus buildings. The subject of using the kitchen was an idea that had been bounced around for a while, with the group examining the different ways they could use the it to serve their fellow students. However, it was when stories about students in the department who were unsure of where they would get their next meal began to surface, that SAL decided to use the space to combat food insecurities. Member Ava Schuster found a guide on how to create a “Cowboy Cabinet” similar to the one in the Haub School and the process of creating a food pantry in the visual arts building begun.
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Funding for the project came from a generous grant of $500 from the art department itself and another $150 grant earned by Schuster. The project also received different supply donations from individual staff members of the building, including a new toaster oven and a blender. The construction of the actual pantry took a lot of work, but the SAL member’s fantastic in the dedication that they put in, something that Shadwell had in mind when implementing the program.
“This is a project that is really dependent on the students,” he said when asked about the direction of the program, “I plan for it to be an ongoing project where when current students leave and new students come in, we do different promotional things and projects. Every “generation” gets to put its stamp on it and all students will have the opportunity to take ownership and be proud of it.”
Since its opening, the “SALivation Station” has received nothing but positive and grateful feedback. Staff members in the department have reported that many students have found the project to be extremely beneficial. SAL hopes to continue growing the project through partnerships with other campus and community organizations that share similar goals.
The “SALivation Station” is a resource open to anyone facing food insecurities. If you are interested in helping the Student Art League with this project, food donations are gladly accepted and can be left in the basket sitting just outside the pantry window at the visual arts building. Any monetary donations can be left with Gwen in the front office.