Officials continue to pursue food pantry endowment after adviser departure

Media Credit: Hatchet File Photo

After the departure of The Store's top administrative partner, officials are continuing efforts to establish an endowment for the University's food pantry.

Updated: June 15, 2018 at 11:07 a.m.

Students and officials running the University’s food pantry are continuing a yearlong effort to establish an endowment after the pantry’s top administrative partner departed.

Officials said a minimum of $100,000 was needed to establish an endowment for The Store – the University’s food pantry – but funds to reach that amount typically take more than a year to achieve. Officials and student leaders involved with The Store said that even though Tim Miller, the former associate dean of students and adviser to the pantry, has moved on to a new job opportunity, the pantry will continue to pursue an endowment and will grow with new technology, including a new app.

“The Store is more than one person; it is an outgrowth of the GW community’s commitment to creating the best living and learning environment for our students to succeed,” Miller said in an email.

The Store first opened in 2016 to address food insecurity concerns and became a student organization last year.

Entering its second year, The Store ramped up its fundraising efforts and aimed to raise between $100,000 and $400,000 to establish an endowment within the next few years. Miller had said at the time that his “sole purpose” last academic year was to begin raising funds for the foundation, which would give 5 percent back to the pantry each year to support operating costs.

But Miller departed his post at GW June 1 to serve as the vice president of student affairs at James Madison University, tasking officials and student leaders of The Store to carry on his efforts to create an endowment.

University spokeswoman Maralee Csellar declined to say how much money has been raised toward the endowment so far and when she expects the funds to be raised. She also declined to say how many people have donated to The Store and who, aside from Miller, has been involved with establishing an endowment.

But Csellar did say that even as Miller was preparing to leave the University, he continued to focus on fundraising efforts. All proceeds from the final D.C. performance of The Miller Band, which Miller headlines, were donated to The Store last month, she said.

She added that the founding gift for The Store is enough to ensure the pantry is funded for at least the next two years, during which students and staff will continue fundraising to establish an endowment. About $10,000 is required to fund The Store’s operations annually.

Csellar said The Store’s student organization will also have a staff adviser in the Center for Student Engagement heading into next year, but she declined to say who will serve in this role. The University also hired an assistant program coordinator in mid-May who will assist The Store’s operations, she said.

“The Store has been and will continue to be a focus for the CSE staff who are dedicated to serving a number of our student populations,” Csellar said.

She said that moving forward, officials have brainstormed ways to “operationalize, improve and evolve” the pantry, like establishing The Store as a non-profit organization and developing new technology “to enhance the shopping experience.”

“Ideas will continue to be researched and over time, some may be implemented, others may not, as we will pursue ideas that best fit The Store’s mission,” Csellar said.

But as administrators focus on fundraising efforts, student leaders have been looking to expand The Store with updated technology and programming.

Saru Duckworth, the president of The Store, said that the main goal of the organization in the upcoming academic year is to maintain partnerships with outside organizations, like Target and Panera, that provide food to stock the pantry’s shelves.

She said leaders of The Store are also working with GW Housing to make laundry more affordable for shoppers this fall.

Duckworth added that the pantry will launch a program providing students with free laptops and clickers in the fall. The Store received a $20,000 grant in April from the Luther Rice Council, a grant and accreditation program offered by Luther Rice College and Seminary, to start the program, she said.

The Store also expanded its offerings last year, introducing school supplies and clothing to the pantry’s shelves.

Duckworth said The Store is also continuing to work on launching an app for shoppers and has been working with the Division of Information Technology on the project since March. She said she has “every confidence moving forward” that the organization will be able to uphold Miller’s “legacy of service” to The Store.

This post was updated to reflect the following changes:
The Hatchet incorrectly reported that The Store was working with GW Housing to launch a program providing students with free laptops and clickers. The pantry is working with GW Housing to make laundry more affordable for shoppers. We regret this error.

This post was also updated to remove an interview with James Harnett, the SA’s former director of digital policy and information. Harnett said The Store was building a new website with an inventory tracking system, but this information was out-of-date. The Store is currently working with the Department of Information Technology to build an app, which will not immediately include an inventory system.

The Hatchet has disabled comments on our website. Learn more.