McDermott becomes third Tiger Pantry director

McDermott hopes to create a focused, idea-centered environment for the pantry.

Sophomore Lauren McDermott is taking Tiger Pantry in a new direction.

McDermott will lead the pantry after senior Paul Haluszczak’s term ends in January 2014.

She will be the pantry’s third director, succeeding Haluszczak and MSA President Nick Droege, who founded the pantry in 2012.

Droege said that he wants to see the pantry go in its own direction, retaining the central goal of fighting food insecurity but breaking from his original ideas.

“I want them to have wants and needs for the pantry,” Droege said of future directors. “I want them to have a vision for the pantry. I want them to have ideas, and new ways to take it because it’s not my thing anymore. It’s their leadership teams … and they should own it and be proud of it.”

Droege said the selection process for the second and third coordinators, the latter of which he was not involved in, are remarkably different given the stage of the progression of Tiger Pantry.

“(The pantry) needed someone who was systems and process focused,” Droege said of the decision to hire Haluszczak. “Paul (Haluszczak) was … outstanding, incredible.”

Now, Droege said, the pantry is ready for new ideas.

“It’s time to get new people in now that we’ve solidified the processes and established it on campus,” he said.

Haluszczak said this was the first time the application was open to those outside of the pantry, but he eventually arrived at McDermott, an internal member of the pantry who had been involved with the pantry from the beginning and embodies everything the pantry needs.

“Her passion and energy for what we do is what gave her the position,” Haluszczak said.

Haluszczak said that though he did not have the opportunity to work with McDermott personally when she first joined the pantry, she has played a critical role in the pantry’s development since she took over as volunteer coordinator.

“She has played a big part in getting the volunteers to show up to shifts, as well as show up to any social events that we have — really creating a well-established environment, a nice environment that people want to show up to every week,” Haluszczak said.

McDermott echoed Haluszczak, and said that her greatest accomplishment at Tiger Pantry was her ability to better involve the volunteers in the pantry’s overarching mission.

“Before, our volunteers stayed in our pantry, and they weren’t really aware of what was going on,” McDermott said. “Now I feel like they have a good grasp on the fundraisers that are being held and all the outside activities when before (they were) not really aware of the impact (they were) having on the Columbia community and the MU community as a whole.”

McDermott shared some of her leadership philosophy that will further shape the pantry and set the precedent for future coordinators.

“It is very important to be very structured, and to make your ideas very clear and focused,” McDermott said. “That way people know what you expect of them. Once you have a group of people that are very passionate about it, anything is possible once you give them a set path of how to get there.”

As director, McDermott said she hopes to ensure the longevity of the pantry by regaining some of the publicity of years passed.

“I would like Tiger Pantry to be one of the biggest names on campus,” McDermott said. “Right now we’re brand new, so last year we had that big surge of publicity, but right now that’s fading, and I would like for us to get back up there. … I really want it to be something that is not stigmatized and people feel freely to use us and encourage other people to use us.”

McDermott, reminiscing about her somewhat spontaneous decision to join the pantry in 2012, said that her time at Tiger Pantry has “turned out to be something more than anything I could have dreamed of.”

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