Tiger Pantry nets more than $16,000 in holiday donations

Following successful fundraising and donation efforts this holiday season, the growing organization hopes to expand its reach and resources this upcoming year.

Tiger Pantry, the on-campus food pantry providing resources to people within the MU community who are impacted by food insecurity, raised a record amount of money and food during the 2014 holiday season.

Through donations, food drives and fundraisers, Tiger Pantry received over 6,000 pounds of food and $16,000 total in donations, Director Tyler Hessler said.

Twelve thousand dollars came from faculty after Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Cathy Scroggs sent out an email to all faculty members asking to donate. This was the largest amount Tiger Pantry ever raised, Hessler said.

“We were ecstatic because we didn’t expect that amount of money and food,” Hessler said. “We can definitely increase our expansion and reach out to more people. We have a lot of clients, but I don’t think we’re reaching out to everyone in the community with food insecurity. But with these available resources, we can make sure everyone is getting the food they need.”

When Tiger Pantry was founded in 2012, over 15,000 students received need-based aid, over 1,000 students had an Expected Family Contribution of less than $1,000 and about 20 students reported they were homeless.

As a growing organization, Tiger Pantry hopes to continue to expand its reach and resources.

Tiger Pantry works with the different schools and organizations at MU to host events and food drives.

The Craft Studio hosted an event called Empty Bowls in October 2014. Attendees purchased a bowl made by a local artist or by a student at the Craft Studio, received a bowl of soup and bread, and the money raised from bowl sales went to the pantry. From this event, the pantry received $1,500.

The School of Medicine and the Trulaske College of Business also hosted donation drives. The med school donated 1,174 pounds of food, while Trulaske donated $1,176.

Swipes, an event held every year at the end of fall semester, encourages students with leftover meal points to use their extra swipes to buy food for the pantry. This year, Swipes generated 2,548 pounds of food.

“Every year we pass what we raised the previous semester,” Fundraising Coordinator Morgan Wootten said.

The money raised goes towards supplies the pantry needs, such as dollies and shelving, or buying food it’s short on in bulk from local grocery stores.

Tiger Pantry recently purchased a van to help with food pickups and distribution with help from a $16,000 grant from Mizzou Women Give, the women’s philanthropy group at MU.

In the upcoming year, Tiger Pantry hopes to expand its reach and spread the word among students. They also hope to get more donations in the spring 2015 semester.

“Usually, the fall semester is the most successful because people like to do food drives during the holiday season,” Wootten said. “Hopefully, we get equal amounts for fall and spring semester.”

By expanding marketing efforts, Tiger Pantry hopes to continue to reach out to more people and continue to grow their donations.

“We’ve had issues in the past of making sure we have at least one of every item we distribute on the shelves,” Hessler said. “We want clients to have the biggest array of choices. We don’t want to ever have to say ‘sorry, we don’t have that item right now.’”

Hessler and Wootten agreed that the most rewarding part of their involvement with the pantry is seeing the full shelves and the impact it has directly on their community.

“Getting the tally of how many pounds of food people donated then seeing it on the shelves is when everything I’ve done is so worth it,” Wootten said. “Seeing those full shelves that can barely fit any more food is incredible. It’s not because of me, it’s because of everyone in the Mizzou community, the other student coordinators and the volunteers.”

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