Pioneer Pantry hosts first pop up event of semester

Written By Erin Yudt, Editor-Elect

The Pioneer Pantry held its first fresh produce pop up event last Wednesday on the second floor lounge of Lawrence Hall. The event was free to all students.

The organization filled tables with apples, cantaloupe, yams, mushrooms, cucumbers, bread and eggs, all of which were available to students free of charge.

“Being a college student, money is always tight,” Genesis Harshel, a senior graphic design major, said. “These events are meant to help out, which is always nice. I can only go grocery shopping once every two week, sometimes longer. It is great to get fresh things into meals, not just eating ramen or rice everyday.”

Brooke Gilman, a sophomore forensic science major, agrees that these events “give students the opportunity to get fruits and vegetables at a time they may not be able to.”

The pantry opened in the fall of 2017 and provides supplemental food to the campus community through the pantry in Lawrence Hall with online ordering, through our monthly produce pop up events and a help yourself table outside of the department of Community Engagement and Leadership on the 2nd floor of Thayer Hall. The program also provides basic needs support like a winter clothing giveaway and Thanksgiving meal program. 

Heather Starr-Fielder was the founding chair of the department and has been involved with the pantry since its launch on campus.

“I run all the day-to-day operations, including making monthly runs to the greater Pittsburgh community food bank to get our food and produce and managing volunteers and pantry pop-ups and other basic needs support for our students,” Starr-Fielder said. “We are very proud of the work that we do to help alleviate food insecurity on our campus.”

Emma Feverkeil, general assistant for the department, helps with organizing the pantry and its vendors and volunteers at these pop up events.

“It is great to provide students with other healthy food options,” Feverkeil said. “Students should not have to stress about affording basic needs like these.”

The pantry also has two aeroponic tower gardens in the Community Engagement and Leadership office that help grow fresh herbs and produce on a regular basis.

An advanced form of hydroponics, aeroponics is the process of growing plants in an air or mist environment rather than soil. Aeroponic systems use water, liquid nutrients and a soilless growing medium to quickly and efficiently grow more colorful, tastier, better smelling and incredibly nutritious produce.

“We harvest these items and put them out on the help yourself table throughout the semester,” Starr-Fielder said. “Right now we are growing cilantro, basil, spinach, peas and more.

The university has recently received declaration from the Pennsylvania Department of Education as a PA Hunger-Free Campus+, which is only declared to 15 other colleges or universities, including the University of Pittsburgh. This award recognizes “institutions that are implementing additional innovative solutions to address student hunger and other basic needs for their campus community,” according to the Department of Education website. The institutions also offer a variety of meal plans, create or implement meal sharing programs, educate student leaders on campus to create student-centered programs and facilitate innovative community partnerships. 

“The pantry is incredibly beneficial for people who have low income and really benefits this community,” Alivia Temple, freshman journalism student said. “This helps relieve student stress because you don’t have to rely solely on income. It’s great to have healthy options like this when the dining hall or cafe might not always.”

The next fresh produce pop up event will be on Thursday, October 20 at 11 a.m. 

To place an order from the pantry, visit, enter your student ID, phone number and pickup date to then select items currently available in the pantry. A text will be sent when the order is ready and can be picked up outside the pantry, on the second floor of Lawrence Hall near the Cafe.