The Panther Student Pantry at Pueblo Community College recently received $45,000 from Project Success, a collaboration between the Federal Student Aid program and Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC) that focuses on strengthening student outcomes and institutional performance at Minority Serving Institutions.
“This is huge for all of our campuses,” said Toni Skilling, PCC’s director of student life and leadership. “These funds will help us stock the pantry with much-needed hygiene items, meat, fresh vegetables and more.”
The pantry opened in 2014 and has locations on each PCC campus – Pueblo, Fremont and Mancos. PCC joined Project Success in 2020 through its partnership with Educational Credit Management Corporation (ECMC). The college also utilizes other Project Success services for students, including financial literacy programs and student loan default prevention.
The total distributed to the PCC pantry since 2021 is $63,000. In addition to purchasing food and hygiene supplies, money from Project Success was used to buy a commercial refrigerator and freezer.
“Toni has done an outstanding job with the (pantry) program and ECMC is proud to support her with those efforts,” said Tom Bailey, outreach director for ECMC.
Multiple PCC entities contribute to the pantry’s operation. The Student Life department and Associated Student Government are responsible for purchasing and stocking food. The PCC Foundation receives donations of money, food, clothing and hygiene items. Volunteers from PCC’s chapter of the Phi Theta Kappa honor society staff the pantry.
The number of students utilizing the pantry has increased significantly this fall, Skilling said. College-wide, visits jumped from 30 in August to 182 in September. Current students may visit once per week and select up to six food items and one hygiene product.
“While we do have several repeat users, we’re also experiencing more first-time visitors since August than we previously had,” said Skilling. “With Project Success funds, we’ve all been able to stock our pantries with items that aren’t available through our community partner, Care and Share Food Bank. The things that are really popular for students now are grab-and-go lunch items that can be heated up in the microwave, hygiene products, baby formula, frozen ground beef, lunch meat and bread.”
The Pueblo campus pantry, located in AB-015, is open from 12-1 p.m. Monday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday, and 12-1 p.m. Friday. The Fremont and Mancos campus pantries are open 9 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Pantries are closed when classes are not in session.