On Thursday families across the U.S. will gather around the table to fill themselves with food and give thanks. Some Bulls, however, may not be in a financially stable enough situation to fill up their dinner table. That’s where Feed-A-Bull comes in.
The pantry was created in September 2015 by the Center for Student Well-Being, the Office of Student Outreach and Support (SOS) and Feeding America Tampa Bay with the goal of alleviating hunger among USF students.
The pantry was formerly located on the second-floor of the Student Services building, but recently, it’s moved locations to the basement of the building in SVC 0002.
Katie Jones, a registered dietician at the Center for Student Well-Being and Student Health Services, said in the last academic year, over 600 visits were made to the pantry. The pantry is currently open from 9-noon on Tuesdays and 1-4 p.m. on Wednesdays.
“We’re looking at potentially expanding an additional day starting in the spring, but for right now, it’s those two days that we’re available for students in need to come in,” Jones said.
Feed-A-Bull is focused on providing food to students who are not able or struggle to buy food for themselves and operates primarily with volunteers.
“We have volunteers that are there during the hours of operation, so we go off the honor system,” she said. “We don’t do any financial screening, we just have a waiver sign that’s basically stating that you’re in need. They also complete a survey for us, but other than that, that’s it.”
In the past, the pantry has offered students pre-made bags of food that the nutrition specialist on staff helped create to ensure they were nutritionally balanced — which is one of the things the pantry set out to do. Rather than simply supply food, Feed-A-Bull is geared toward ensuring the food provided is healthy. Jones said that rather than giving students these bags, they are moving toward letting students self-select the food they need.
“Hopefully, next week we’re going to be set up, so it will be self-selection with a guided list,” Jones said. “So, it will give students more freedom in what they are able to choose, and it’s not just handed to them.
“So, they’ll have more food preferences … the key is we’re trying to make sure they’re getting foods from different food groups. They’ll still need to choose stuff from grains, fruit, vegetables, protein, and then they’ll just have guided options.”
Those who wish to make a donation can drop off non-perishable food to their location. At the moment, students can leave donations in front of the door if the pantry is closed. Eventually, there will be a barrel donations can be dropped in.