The Volunteers and Donations
RamPantry at VCU is staffed almost exclusively by volunteers trained to be respectful, helpful and to keep Pantry users’ information confidential. Over 90% of the food given out by RamPantry is from donations from the VCU and Richmond communities. No student fee money is used to support RamPantry at VCU.
Defining Food Insecurity
Food insecurity is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as having “limited or uncertain access to nutritious, safe foods necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle.”
For college students, this means you are food insecure if you are in need of nutritious emergency food. Please help the pantry conserve donations and use it only if you cannot afford nutritious food.
The History of RamPantry
Terrence Walker, M.Div., an administrative assistant at VCU University Counseling Services, had been doing charity outreach work for most his life. In 2012 he was asked to find a way to link a local church's charity work to the VCU student community. Terrence reached out to Dr. Linda Hancock, director of The VCU Wellness Resource Center, for her thoughts on needed resources for VCU students. Hancock suggested a student food pantry.
Terrence worked with a small team of VCU students and others in the community to build the foundation of the pantry. The Baptist Collegiate Ministry (BCM) offered a space in their building to house the pantry. Dr. Mary Sheldon, who teaches the "Food for Thought" class, agreed to step in as a faculty advisor. VCUarts student Kelly Digman worked on creating the pantry's logo, and another VCUarts student created the brand and website. Preliminary food drives began to pop up through various student organizations such as the Catholic Campus Ministry, VCU Residential Life and Housing, and the VCU University Student Commons.
As word began to spread, larger donations came in the form of much-needed shelves and a refrigerator. The food pantry received its first large food donation from one of its first sponsors, Food Lion.
In the fall of 2014, the food pantry was officially dubbed "RamPantry" and moved to its current location in the VCU University Student Commons. Various VCU personnel including President Rao, VCU Foundation members, and Provost Gail Hackett have toured and voiced support for the pantry. RamPantry is student-run by Service-learning students, ASPiRE students, work-study interns, and individual student and faculty volunteers.
In 2015 RamPantry partnered with VCU's Office of Sustainability and began receiving weekly deliveries from Shalom Farms and Relay Foods. RamPantry was recognized for its successes and achievements; RamPantry was a recipient of VCU's Student Organization of the Year, VCU's Outstanding Service Organization, and VCU's Division of Community Engagement's Student-Initiated Partnership award.
In 2016 VCU Sustainability's Learning Garden kicked off and began donating biweekly produce to the pantry. Currently RamPantry is working towards becoming a more established resource as well as partnering with other campus-wide sponsors to continue to decrease food insecurity among VCU students.
We would like to recognize former faculty sponsor Professor Mary Sheldon, who taught a service learning course entitled "Food for Thought". In this course, students volunteered in the pantry and learned alternative ways to serve Richmond in regards to food insecurity. In addition, she supported RamPantry by writing letters of support for various outreach projects including grant collaborations.
In the summer of 2018, RamPantry started a new chapter as a sponsored student organization, under the umbrella of VCU's Department of Off Campus Student Services. This change has been a great positive step for the long-term success of RamPantry at VCU, and we are grateful to be a sustainable resource for VCU students facing food insecurity.
Mission and Vision
RamPantry exists to ensure food security and human dignity and well-being on campus by providing in-need VCU students with healthy, culturally appropriate emergency food. Through a community engagement orientation toward local food security, community health and institution-citizen partnership, RamPantry desires to do its part in assuring that no person in the VCU community goes hungry and that every student has access to nutritious food.
RamPantry is a collaboration between students, faith-based supporters, VCU classes, university offices and Richmond corporate sponsors.
VCU Office of Sustainability
By partnering with VCU's Office of Sustainability's Community and Learning Gardens, RamPantry is able to both supply healthy foods and support access to food education and the sustainable learning gardens located on both the Monroe Park and MCV campuses. For more information on this important source of RamPantry's supplies or to volunteer, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
A student-led organization, RamPantry+ aims to provide RamPantry users with needed hygiene products donated from members of the VCU community. RamPantry+ is a subsection of RamPantry at VCU that focuses solely on collecting and donating hygiene products. Individuals interested in working with RamPantry+ can contact email@example.com for more information.
RamPantry is a member of the College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA), which serves both existing and emerging campus food banks.