Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon Gives Thumbs-Up to Neumann Food Pantry

Neumann University students Erin Williams and David Shertel meet with US Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon at Knight's Pantry.
Image via Neumann University.
Neumann University students Erin Williams and David Shertel meet with US Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon at Knight's Pantry.

Neumann University’s Knights’ Pantry, a food bank for students, got a special visit on Dec. 15 from Congresswoman Mary Gay Scanlon (D-PA).

Scanlon is a co-sponsor of a bill that would convene a White House conference on food, nutrition, hunger, and health, the first task force of its kind in more than 50 years.

She called the Knights’ Pantry “a fabulous example of how you meet people where they are, see what it is that they need, and make it easy.”

The pantry is set up so visitors can shop for the times they need. Rep. Scanlon remarked that “pantries like this give people sovereignty over their food choices” by giving them the ability to shop rather than accept pre-packaged charitable donations.

David Shertel, president of Neumann’s Student Government Association, announced during Scanlon’s visit that the SGA had donated $25,000 to begin building an endowment that will allow the pantry to continue in perpetuity.

Specific data on Neumann’s food insecurity is not available but national surveys in late 2020 found that almost one-third of college students (32 percent) face this issue, defined as “having to miss meals for financial reasons or not knowing where your next meal is coming from.”

According to the survey data, the pandemic has exacerbated the problem.

The Knights’ Pantry began operations on Sept. 8 on the fifth floor of the Rocco Abessinio Building.

Designed to look like a small convenience store with aisles and rows of shelving, the pantry offers non-perishable food and personal hygiene items to any student with a university ID, no questions asked.

When students check in, they are given a small shopping bag and asked to select no more than the bag can hold.

The concept is the brainchild of Rina Keller, professor of Social Work, and Mary Beth Davis, a counselor at Neumann’s Counseling Center for Wellness. Their goal is that the Knights’ Pantry will evolve into a student-run organization, coordinated by a mix of interns, work-study students, and volunteers. 

Find out more about Neumann University.


Claudia Estrada-Howell talks about food insecurity on college campuses in her 2019 TED Talk.

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