Our History

The Bear Essentials Food Pantry opened on June 11, 2014, in Old Main because the founders of the pantry, Brian James, Reesa Ramsahai staff counselor, Marvin Williams, and Melissa Shock recognized the problem of food insecurity on campus.

Marvin Williams, UCAN coordinator and academic advisor, had a student come into the advisory center who “had little to nothing to eat the last couple of days.” Williams took her to the cafeteria and paid for her meal.

Brian James, an instructor, had a lot to do with the first push to have a pantry on campus. He did several canned food drives that were then given to local food banks. Brian had the idea that we should have a pantry on campus for the students and faculty that were having a hard time.

Jacob Christie, a graduate student, helped with the growth of the pantry. He also helped with getting volunteers, getting new grants, and helping the pantry grow to what it is today.

The room at Old Main was well used and served its purpose as the birthplace of the Food Pantry from 2014 to 2020. There were different departments that had a helping hand in the creation of the pantry such as Student Success, The Residential College, and most importantly the UCA Physical Plant.

The Physical Plant provided vehicles in the early years of the pantry to be able to pick food up from different locations and bring the food back to the Pantry at Old Main.

The pantry started off with a low number of visitors, under 100, but soon more people began utilizing the resource. The numbers would fluctuate from month to month but sometimes they would record over 200 individuals coming in to get food.

In July 2020 the pantry became a unit in the Division of Student Affairs and moved to a larger location in the Physical Plant building in January 2021. The pantry currently serves over 100 shoppers each week.