Despite all of the unknowns in 2020, the staff at the Knights Helping Knights Pantry knew one thing for certain: Hungry students are in need of help more than ever.
So when COVID-19 forced UCF to transition to remote learning in the spring, the pantry innovated its operations to keep serving UCF’s students.
By pivoting to curbside pickup, the pantry distributed 11,193 pounds of food in to-go bags to 1,599 students from March 16 to July 31. As the fall semester kicked off this week, the pantry remains steadfast in its mission while staying committed to practices that protect the health and well-being of the university community.
“The past few months have been a learning curve on how we can effectively manage our resources to maximize the impact of helping our students while also establishing practices that make the process safer for everyone,” says pantry manager Eli Valentin. “We’re looking forward to continuing to serve our students.”
Although all food distribution will still be handled through curbside pickup for the fall 2020 semester, the pantry is now offering in-store appointments to allow shopping for clothing, toiletries, appliances and other miscellaneous items. Time slots will be staggered in 15-minute intervals, and one shopper will be allowed entry per appointment. The pantry staff plans to clean the shop between appointments.
Although the blazer rental program is suspended at this time, professional attire and other clothing are available at no cost, subject to availability.
All UCF students — including UCF Online — with a valid student ID are welcome to use the pantry’s services. The pantry, located at Ferrell Commons on the main campus, is open Monday through Friday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. In-store appointments and curbside pickup are both arranged in advance via an online form on the pantry’s website.
Students can receive a bag once a week that includes up to 20 food items of pre-selected staples such as bread, pasta, tomato sauce, peanut butter and canned soups. Additionally, students can request frozen meats and produce to be included subject to availability.
While the pantry is still accepting food donations, pantry staff requests no clothing donations at this time. Contactless drop-off of food items can be donated at two bins outside the pantry’s entrance, and it is strongly encouraged to donate during hours of operation so on-site staff can process the items quickly and efficiently.