The floors have been waxed and buffed, there’s new paint on the walls, desks, chairs, and a magazine rack have all been selected from the university surplus website. A student is working away on a website and a social media strategy is being developed. New K-State Food Pantry Coordinator, Erin Bishop, has finished all these tasks, along with a list of other items, all within her first two weeks on the job.
Erin earned two degrees from K-State, and considers herself a lifelong Wildcat. She proudly shares that her grandmother lived in Van Zile Hall during WWII. Since graduating with her master’s degree in 2008, Erin has worked in mental wellness, substance abuse counseling, and academic advising. In addition, she found that her work with K-State Research and Extension and UFM Community Learning Center fueled her passion for volunteer service, community gardens, and ensuring student success by breaking down barriers that impede their learning and success.
Her next task is establishing a name for the new food pantry. She’s been running from one event to the next during Week of Welcome to share information about this new service and location with students on campus. Erin estimates that she has engaged with more than 600 students by attending the Part-time Opportunities Fair, Health-A-Palooza, and the Activities Carnival. At each event, she asks students to vote on the name they feel best represents what we will be doing and who we are. The top five choices are:
- Cat’s Cupboard
- FEED K-State (Fueling Educational Excellence Daily)
- Willie’s Walk-In
- Refuel K-State
- Willie’s Cupboard
Once a name is selected, she’ll begin creating marketing materials such as posters and flyers for circulating on campus, as well as for social media websites and applications.
With enthusiasm, Erin remembers that she also ordered shelving to hold the food and a reception desk this week. “We’re very excited for those to arrive!”
This week Erin interviewed students for a graduate assistantship and hopes to have someone hired by Friday. The graduate student will act as the assistant coordinator, helping with daily operations and running the space when Erin is at events and speaking engagements.
As Erin works away on her list, she shares that she has met with HandsOn K-State, a program facilitated by the Staley School of Leadership Studies, and they are going to support the food pantry in creating a volunteer training curriculum focused on confidentiality, dignity, customer service, and dependability. We’ll put out a job description for these volunteers and the HandsOn K-State Student Coordinators will help conduct the interviews. She will also be meeting with the Human Development & Family Science internship coordinator to discuss securing an intern for next semester. “This is all very exciting. I think we finally found two computers for the pantry. We are working with the Staley School of Leadership Studies to, hopefully, get a card swipe and a tablet for those utilizing the services to check in to the pantry.”
“We’re hoping for a soft-opening in September and a grand opening in October. It is very exciting and things are moving right along. I very much look forward to meeting and talking with the K-State community about this critical new resource that will be available to students.”
I notice that Erin brings a change of clothes with her because she’s going to be spending the afternoon cleaning and organizing the new space in the basement of Fairchild Hall in order for this opening to occur.
In Erin’s spare time, she works in her garden that takes up 1,400 square feet. She’s always thinking about what to do with the produce and who it could benefit. There seems to be a pattern developing. Erin enjoys putting others first. She’s the perfect fit for K-State.