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Paw Pantry Provides Food, Resources for Students

The Paw Pantry (above) is a food and hygenic supplies pantry for all Clemson students with a valid CUID.
Savannah Miller, Photo Editor

The Paw Pantry (above) is a food and hygenic supplies pantry for all Clemson students with a valid CUID.

Clemson’s Paw Pantry, an on-campus hygienic supplies and food pantry for food-insecure students, opened March 11 in the Student Union. Three years after the idea took root in Parent Council, the pantry has become an all-volunteer, all-donation student initiative geared towards meeting the needs of food insecure students on campus.
Available to “any student with a valid CUID,” according to the pantry’s Facebook page, there is no “qualification of need” and students can take up to ten items per week, according to founder Emily Blackshire.
A junior language and international health major, Blackshire revived the Paw Pantry two years ago after the idea was abandoned by the Parent Council in favor of meal plan supplements. Her interest was born from “a friend who was basically homeless.” Upon learning that food insecurity on campuses is “a growing problem because the median income isn’t increasing, but college tuition and fees are,” she and her friends turned to CUSG and Student Affairs to get the ball rolling. After another series of set backs and deciding that no “one group should have ownership over [the pantry]”, the Paw Pantry was picked up by Mandy Hayes in Campus Activity and Events.
Now the pantry is housed under the Office of Student Leadership and Civic Engagement in Campus Activity and Events, but is ultimately run by “any student who expresses interest in being a volunteer or board of director,” said Blackshire.
The pantry itself can be found next to Chili’s in the Student Union, and is currently open three days a week. It functions as “an on-campus resource center for any member of the Clemson Family who needs it,” said Blackshire.
The 10 items allotted per week can be food or hygienic products, which the pantry hopes to expand to eventually include feminine hygiene products and contraceptives. Blackshire noted that the pantry itself has just begun its life, and changes will inevitably be made to the kinds of products they offer.
“The next couple of months we’ll be piloting and trying to figure out what [products] would be most effective,” Blackshire said.
The Paw Pantry hopes to “create a culture of take what you need and need what you take,” Blackshire said, so that the service can best support students with food insecurity.
Marketing director and volunteer for the Paw Pantry, Lawson Hamilton, a marketing major, got involved during his UPIC internship alongside Blackshire in the Sustainability office. Now involved in marketing and outreach, he volunteers during open hours, tables, handles social media and manages the site.
Lawson has volunteered in the pantry itself during it’s “soft opening” where he says “we’ve already seen a need … even though it’s just getting up and running, we’ve had people come in who have been so grateful that they have this resource.”
Based on Clemson’s community connectivity and its “ethics of care” according to the Facebook page, the paw pantry seeks to “end hunger on our campus and support students,” said Lawson.
Any students interested in volunteering or donating should contact the Paw Pantry at [email protected] or through their Facebook page, Clemson University Paw Pantry.

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