Kick-Off Event for “Fall Into the Pantry” to Raise Awareness of Food Insecurity and the Pioneer Pantry

Written By Diana Navarrete

On Oct. 20, the Special Events class under Professor Camille Downing had their kickoff event for “Fall Into the Pantry,” a combination of the two events, the pumpkin decorating contest “Pumpkin Palooza” and the Pioneer Pantry pop-up.

Three events will be carried out to raise awareness of food insecurity and of the Pioneer Pantry itself on the second floor of Lawrence Hall.  

“This was part of the Special Events class, every year we do one or two special events for clients. Our client for the last couple years has been the Pioneer Pantry,” full-time lecturer and Special Events Professor Camille Downing said. 

Fresh produce was brought in from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank by Dr. Heather Starr Fiedler, Chair of the Department of Community Engagement, for the Pioneer Pantry pop-up advertised on the Campus Announcements email blast. Three tables were set up with a variety of fruits and vegetables, bread and tofu, available and free to students and staff.

Everything’s really well organized. So, I feel like that makes it easier to share it with students and not have it become chaotic. Not saying that it ever would, but everything’s really clean, well done and well executed,” Catherine Krebs, sophomore dance major, said.

Charlotte Nevins, sophomore dance major, said that she was surprised by the range of fresh produce as opposed to cans and snacks. All of the canned foods from the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank were placed in the Pioneer Pantry located on the second floor of Lawrence.

“I enjoy how you kind of have this little setup where we can pick out what we want, like an actual grocery store or farmer’s market type of thing. I really enjoyed that,” Allison Mullin, sophomore criminal justice major, said.

Samantha Hindman, freshman journalism major, said that she appreciated how the Pioneer Pantry is helping students combat food insecurity and easily obtain healthy foods when at times it is difficult to do so. 

There is definitely a good variety. I think that this is a really good event to help students who maybe don’t have the time to go out for groceries but need something healthy, as opposed to hamburgers every day,” Hindman said.

The fourth table was dedicated to the “Pumpkin Palooza,” in which 40 pumpkins were available to the first people to arrive. Along with the pumpkins were pamphlets explaining how to participate in the virtual pumpkin carving and decorating contest. Entries will be accepted by email at [email protected] or through Instagram with the tag @PointParkPioneerPantry from Oct. 26-31.  

The voting period will be open from Oct. 26 to Nov. 2 for students’ choice, and winners will be announced Nov. 3 on Instagram. Students who were not able to get a pumpkin are motivated to get their own pumpkins and enter their submissions for a chance to win gift cards.     

“I was pleasantly surprised by how many people came just because they had heard that there’s going to be this ‘Pumpkin Palooza’ from the Social Scoop email, so that was good to see that people are excited about this event,” said Regan Tischler, senior public relations and advertising major and count executive of the Special Events class. “I find that because there hasn’t been a lot to do, something they can do at home is really exciting.”

The next two events for “Fall Into the Pantry” will be hosted virtually. On Nov. 2 there will be “Bingo Bash,”  and on Nov. 9 there will be a live cooking tutorial, “Cozy Cooking.”