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Enjoy San Joaquin Valley Living

College of the Sequoias Giant Pantry

Nov 27, 2017 11:00AM ● By Kendra Kaiserman

Feed the Need

December 2017
Story by Kendra Kaiserman
Photo courtesy of COS Giant Pantry

No one should go hungry. This is the aim and belief of the College of the Sequoias Giant Pantry.

“Nobody should ever worry about where their next meal might come from,” says Anna Caro, a College of the Sequoias sophomore and Visalia resident. “I want students to know nobody is going to look at them any differently if they went in to get some food. End of story.” 

Caro is a student ambassador for the Giant Pantry who takes advantage of the service herself. She started at COS in January and got involved with the Giant Pantry a week or two after she started. “The Giant Pantry is there to help students overcome hunger. They’ve been instrumental for me as a single mom,” Caro says.

The pantry opened in October 2014 after a survey showed more than half of students experienced food insecurity, says college nurse Cynthia Norvall. 

That’s when a food insecurity task force was formed, made up of deans, classified staff and members of the community.

The first partnership event was in March 2014 – free nutrition on the go, with fresh fruits and vegetables. Today, the event occurs the first Tuesday of each month on the COS Visalia campus. Peanut butter and jelly sack lunches are now available at the pantry, as well.

  In October 2014, the COS Giant Pantry launched “Together we CANN,” a campus-based food drive. The first year, the drive acquired 600 pounds of food. That number jumped to 800 pounds the second year, and last year, the drive acquired 1,561 pounds of food. To add some friendly competition into the mix, the college has encouraged groups to form teams, and each donated bag or box of food earns points for that team.  

This year, the COS Giant Pantry is participating in the Giving Tuesday campaign and they are creating an outreach video that will be launched on social media. “It’s all about exposure,” Norvall says. On Giving Tuesday, which is Nov. 28 this year, the Visalia, Hanford and Tulare campuses will serve pumpkin pancakes from 8-10 am for a suggested donation of $5. “Our goal is to raise $10,000 for funding for the pantry,” says Norvall. 

Nearly 2,000 students have benefited from the Giant Pantry since its inception. In addition, COS partnered with Fresno’s community food bank to create six snack stations, which gave out more than 1,300 snacks in September alone.

The COS Giant Pantry is part of the College and University Food Bank Alliance, established in 2012. Today, 543 campus-based food pantries are either operating or in the process of being formed across the country. “The vision of the alliance is to alleviate the barriers and challenges associated with food insecurity and hunger so college and university students can remain in school and ultimately earn their degrees,” Norvall says.

Norvall says the best way to help the COS Giant Pantry is to send dollars, but “cans are so beneficial as well.” And peanut butter and jelly are always popular necessities.

“The kids are amazing, the task is large, but we will persevere,” Norvall concludes.

College of the Sequoias Giant Pantry

(559) 737-6241 • 

Pantry Hours: Monday-Thursday 9-11am and 2-4pm, 

Friday 9-11am