Petey’s Pantry: Feeding Canisius students one can at a time
By Julia Barth, Features Editor
In the tunnels underneath Palisano lies a room right across from Shoppe 120. Most students pass by it on a daily basis whether they are heading to class, grabbing food or going to the gym. But the majority of them have also probably never noticed it nor know what it is.
That room is Petey’s Pantry, and it is the food pantry for Canisius students. A service that hasn’t been active since the fall of 2019, it is now up and running again to provide food for students on campus. Sabrina Sosa, a graduate assistant in Student Life as a student engagement coordinator, took on the role of running the pantry after she first learned about it.
Sosa recalled someone offhandedly mentioning something about the pantry, and she hadn’t even realized Canisius had its own pantry on campus. Associate Director of Housing Al Pilato asked Sosa if she wanted to start it up again, and she gladly accepted the offer.
Since then, the pantry has been up and running with many donations coming in and many students volunteering to work during the week. The pantry is free for all Canisius students, and any student can come when it is open to pick up whatever they’d like. The little room has a wide array of food, hygiene products and even kitchenware. The shelves are lined with cans of soup, pre-made meals, canned meats, canned produce, snacks, pasta and other non-perishables, as well as some other products like deodorant, toothbrushes and toothpaste.
Students can come in during open hours (which can be found updated each week in the Today@Canisius emails) and just have to fill out a form if it’s their first time before grabbing what they want. Although the hours change week by week, Sosa said they have been able to be open a good amount. “My main goal has been Monday through Friday 1:00 p.m. to 5:00 p.m., but with student availability it ends up differing,” she said.
In order to get more people to volunteer to work the pantry, Sosa said Student Life has started offering the pantry as an on-campus job if students are looking to make money. Additionally, club leaders have been granted the ability to do their office hours in the pantry, in order to have it open more often. But as of right now, most of the volunteers have come out of Griffins Giving Back, a volunteering club on campus.
The pantry is completely funded by fundraising and donations, and Sosa said that many people have donated food or money to go towards food. Additionally, Sosa just applied for and received a $3,000 grant from Swipe Out Hunger to go towards the pantry.
As for its impact, Sosa said it has been a huge success. She is happy to be contributing to something on campus that directly benefits the students. “When you’re paying other bills, food isn’t always your first thought,” she said, noting that the pantry is always an option for students. Sosa said that residents, commuters and people in off campus apartments have all utilized the pantry and have been appreciative of it being back on campus.
Looking to the future, Sosa is going to have more perishables available for students who’d like fresh food. So far she has had apples, bananas, milk, eggs and bread, which have all been very popular. The pantry has a partnership with Chartwells — the dining service at Canisius — and many of the perishables have been provided by them.
If you are interested in getting involved with the pantry in any way, you can reach out to Sabrina Sosa at firstname.lastname@example.org, Al Pilato at email@example.com or just stop by Student Life in the basement of Dugan to ask! Additionally, donations can be dropped off directly to the pantry or brought to Student Life. Finally, if students would like to help more with food insecurity on campus, residents with meal plans can actually donate meal swipes in their MyCanisius Portal under “Manage GriffBucks/Choice/Activity.” Meals can also be requested through the portal.
The success of the pantry has been very exciting not only for Sosa, but for the campus community, and she hopes to keep it going for years to come.