In August 2018, the Shocker Support Locker – Wichita State’s largest food pantry – was an empty room with barren, wire shelves.
Gabriel Fonseca, assistant director of Student Involvement and advisor for Student Government Association (SGA), recalls its state of decay.
“There’s a quote I like using… ‘Balancing on a rope requires skills, steady feet and a steady mind,’” said Fonseca. “The old shelving was none of that. It was just a matter of time before a hot mess would have happened in the locker.”
In September 2018, a student reported another individual taking an unsustainably large quantity of food from the locker. It was a clear signal that change was necessary for the locker to remain effective at its mission.
SGA operates the Shocker Support Locker in Grace Wilkie 103 as a reservoir of donated items for students facing food insecurity. Now boasting steel shelves and continuous staff presence, the Shocker Support Locker has matured beyond recognition in the past year.
SGA looks forward to its continued expansion with the addition of four dedicated staff members and new partnerships with donors across Wichita.
Management of the locker now lies largely in the hands of its first graduate assistant, business administration graduate student Collin Munson. He and his three part-time student assistants are excited to witness more changes for the locker.
“Everybody came in and said, ‘Wow, this place has grown since I last saw it.’ Well, that’s good because hopefully in the next couple months it keeps growing,” said Munson.
The locker staff is working to reinvigorate their partnership with the Kansas Food Bank, Dillons and Chartwells, and is developing a partnership with United Way.
Pepsi Co. also recently pledged $14,000 annually in food, drink and other products from multiple brands under the corporation’s umbrella.
On top of the food already on the way, the locker now contains shelves of hygiene products, used textbooks and professional clothing items. It’s a mixed blessing.
“We bought these shelves, and they’re amazing, but the space is not going to be sustainable for long,” said Fonseca.
Grace Wilkie Hall recently allowed the locker to utilize an empty office as a storage space for products. This move will ease the burden on shelf space in the locker and its supporting offices in the Rhatigan Student Center.
In their recently published annual review, the locker reports 5,618 visitors and 14,485 lbs. of products donated since it began tracking data in October 2018. SGA and the locker staff expect even more usage this year.