GW’s student-run food pantry is expanding its food offerings.
In response to requests from students who use the pantry, The Store opened a shelf with gluten-free foods, like gluten-free cereal and pasta, earlier this month. Student leaders said the move will allow The Store to accommodate a wider range of students with different dietary needs who also face food insecurity.
Saru Duckworth, The Store’s president, said that before creating the gluten-free shelf, shoppers requested more food options because much of the food from the Capital Area Food Bank – The Store’s main food supplier – is grain-based. She said shoppers asked for gluten-free foods, like cereal, granola bars and pasta, which members of The Store now receive from the food bank and purchase from Whole Foods each week.
“We realized that much of the food that we procure from the food bank is grain- and gluten-based, and wanted to provide an option for shoppers who can’t eat gluten,” Duckworth said in an email.
Duckworth added that the new executive board, which begins its tenure next semester, will continue to purchase the new items. She said members of The Store will continue to “create resources in a sustainable and cost-effective way” for students who have other dietary restrictions.
“We are aware that there are other dietary needs of shoppers and, as we grow as an organization, we look to be more inclusive and mindful of these needs,” Duckworth said.
Martin Yerovi, one of The Store’s co-directors of internal affairs, said The Store had previously received some gluten-free foods from the Capital Area Food Bank but designated a specific shelf for gluten-free items three weeks ago. He said that including gluten-free options makes The Store more accessible to students with different dietary needs.
“We believe we are diversifying the available options shoppers can find at The Store,” Yerovi said in an email.
Ojani Walthrust, the Student Association’s executive vice president, said he wants to expand upon The Store’s new options by encouraging dining vendors to include more gluten-free options. Walthrust declined to say how he would work with dining vendors, saying the idea is in its early stages.
Walthrust said that having gluten-free options is a “phenomenal” idea that allows more students experiencing food insecurity to access The Store.
“Unfortunately, there’s not that many options available, and even those options that are available, they’re very expensive,” Walthrust said. “And that’s another thing that we want to try to tackle as well, not just in The Store but also try to make sure that the vendors that we’re associated with are cognizant of this.”