Tiger Pantry celebrates one-year birthday

“Without your support and the work we’ve put in, we wouldn’t be here,” Haluszczak said.
A year after cutting the ribbon for Tiger Pantry, MSA President Nick Droege thanks everyone for their support and handwork.The pantry has given more than 22,000 pounds of food to students since its opening and is the first university pantry to provide fresh produce.

Tiger Pantry gave food to its first client on Oct. 2, 2012.

The pantry has since given more than 22,000 pounds of food to more than 2,000 people, Tiger Pantry coordinator Paul Haluszczak said.

On the pantry's one-year anniversary, the volunteers of Tiger Pantry came together to celebrate the accomplishments and the future of the charity.

Haluszczak began the birthday celebration by reading a letter from an anonymous pantry client. The pantry client was once a donor to the Central Missouri Food Bank, but after the recession, a divorce and high gas prices, the client found difficulty paying for food and used the services of Tiger Pantry.

"You never know who might need your help, and only God knows when it might be your turn in the bread lines," Haluszczak read.

Haluszczak paused after reading the letter, holding back tears.

"It means the world," Haluszczak said.

Anne Deaton, speaking both for herself and Chancellor Brady Deaton, discussed what the pantry meant to MU.

"We are inspired by you, and we have learned so much from you about living the values of our university," Anne Deaton said.

Anne Deaton explained how she and her husband struggled to pay the food bills when they had two children and were both graduate students at the University of Wisconsin. She said she and Brady Deaton used to buy saltines rather than bread because they could make more peanut butter sandwiches from the saltines.

"Had there been a food pantry, I would've been at its door," she said.

There was no food pantry, she said.

Anne Deaton thanked the volunteers for doing something about food insecurity at MU.

"You chose to look beneath the veneer," she said.

Missouri Students Association President Nick Droege described the first steps toward fighting food insecurity.

"It started with seven of us plus Kathy Murray, ironically at a nice restaurant," he said. "We passed around binders with all the things we needed to get done to start a food pantry … When we first looked at the binders, some of the looks on our faces were like, 'How are we going to do this?'"

Now, Tiger Pantry volunteers are helping other SEC schools start their own pantries, Droege said.

"We started with helping a small amount of people and … betting our corner of the world, and very quickly, it spread to bettering college campuses across the country," he said.

The pantry has come a long way since Droege spearheaded the idea in January 2012 after learning about the University of Arkansas' food pantry. In March 2012, Tiger Pantry became an agent of the Central and Northeastern Missouri Food Bank and was supported by MU administrators, Assessment coordinator Carlos Martinez-Villar said. A few months later, the pantry found its home off Rock Quarry Road.

The pantry became an MSA auxiliary a month later, and in the spring, Tiger Pantry became the first university pantry to offer fresh produce to its clients, Sustainability coordinator Kat Seal said.

The pantry volunteers have plans to expand the food options offered, become an educational outlet and continue being a self-sustaining program, Seal said.

"We still need to grow a lot," she said.

Haluszczak ended the evening by thanking those who have helped and encouraging everyone to continue helping.

"You'll be hearing a lot about us this year," he said.

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