Friday, December 8, 2023

Becoming Involved to Make an Impact: Billiken Bounty

By: Kelsey Schmeling (DPT Class of 2026)

During my sophomore year I knew I wanted to get involved on campus because I was not able to freshman year due to COVID. I joined what felt like every club at SLU but only stuck with a few. I was a shift volunteer in the Billiken Bounty pantry and knew I wanted to do something more to make an impact on campus.  

Billiken Bounty is an on-campus food pantry run by students for students with the mission of alleviating food insecurity among Saint Louis University students and spreading awareness and education about food insecurity. We pride ourselves on privacy, professionalism, respect, and dignity. We do not collect personal information from our clients and require no proof of need which helps eliminate some barriers to accessing a food pantry. We seek to provide pantry staples and meal items that are healthy that college students actually want to eat while accommodating to dietary restrictions the best we can.

We started in 2018 when a Saint Louis University student recognized the need for a food pantry. Based on the original research done, it was determined that a shopping model would work the best, and that is what is still implemented today. We were first located in the BSC but with increased growth we have moved to a much larger space in the CGC. Since opening we have also spread to a location at SLU Law and are in the works of finding a location on South Campus. 

When considering how to increase my involvement and impact, I took the leap and applied for co-chair and got it and I have grown so much ever since. My role as co-chair is to serve as the main point of communication for all things pantry related. I stay in contact with community partners, other university pantries, and faculty of SLU to answer any questions that may come up and start projects we deem beneficial to the pantry. I also serve as the main meeting facilitator between members of our e-board, SLU faculty, and volunteers. 

This position has allowed me to have conversations I would have never had over topics that had never crossed my mind before. I have learned the importance of being a good listener during a conversation, keeping an open mind, and respecting everyone because you never know what their situation is. Time management is another skill I have learned. Trying to balance school, work, and running the pantry can be difficult at times but knowing when to ask for help has been key for me. We have members of our executive board designated to certain roles and they are amazing at making sure everything is running smoothly. 

Since the Spring of 2022 we have had an influx of growth and are in need of donations. Last semester we had 1,500 client visits and almost 10,000 items left the pantry. We collect all donations as long as they are not expired. Our most popular items include pasta and pasta sauce, rice and beans, household items such as paper towels and tide pods, hygiene products, and condiments. To stay updated on Billiken Bounty, please follow us on Instagram @billikenbounty and feel free to reach out with any questions!

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