Wildcat Pantry proposes new student fee to cover increasing student needs


Wildcat Pantry is spending $1000 weekly on food, photo by Jaeda Nelson

Megan Rogers, News Editor

The Wildcat Pantry, located on the first floor of the James E. Brooks Library, offers free food to CWU students and has proposed a new student fee to help cover the pantry’s costs. 

According to Wildcat Pantry Coordinator Jaeda Nelson, the pantry is spending about $1,000 a week on food. She said that they get about 500 visits to the pantry a month and distribute around 4,000 pounds of items quarterly. 

“We don’t have any recurring or reliable form of funding,” Nelson said. “All of our funding is based off of donations. The only funding we do have is for our actual paid staff.”

If the Wildcat Pantry wanted to extend its service, Nelson said it would need a reliable source of income to make sure the pantry continues to exist. 

“The reason why we wanted to propose a fee is that we expect to have different forms of funding coming in,” Nelson said. “Legislatively, hopefully, we are looking to have more campus funding to support more of our facility upgrades, but a lot of those things take a few years minimum.”

Junior computer science major and Wildcat Pantry Lead Andrea Guillen said students can vote for the possible Wildcat Pantry fee during the ASCWU elections. Guillen said students can pick between a $6 fee, a $10 fee or no fee at all. 

“It’s a fee that’s automatically on your fees that you get quarterly, so there is no opt-out option,” Guillen said. 

According to the Registered Student Organizations Council meeting minutes that took place on Feb. 27, a $6 fee will help cover “minimal operational costs,” and the $10 fee will help cover “further food assistance and essential services.”

Nelson said that this student fee initiative isn’t them saying they are relying on the students, but  allowing them to participate in a food justice and access movement. 

“We still have a lot of opportunities for funding,” Nelson said. “It’s just the student fee, it provides us to have the freedom and flexibility to continue to really amplify and honor this program.”

Nelson said she thinks having a food pantry on campus is important because it is a reliable source for students and doesn’t collect too much of their personal information, seeing as they only need their Connection card to access the pantry. 

“It’s important that they have the resources to be able to support themselves to be able to live a really successful college experience,” Nelson said. “If we can set them up and position them to feel empowered by taking care of themselves, by being able to also promote sustainability and making sure food isn’t going to waste, I think that’s a good practice.”

Vice President of Financial Affairs Joel Klucking said the proposed Wildcat Pantry fee is an example of a voluntary fee, meaning the students are imposing a fee upon themselves for a need that isn’t currently being met.

“The students, through PUSH, started this food pantry, and it’s been very popular and very important part of campus and so they want to support it with an additional voluntary fee,” Klucking said. 

To do this, Klucking said the pantry would first run it through student government, and the  student government would decide whether the fee is a good idea or not. They would then put it on the ballot so the student body could vote on it. 

“Ultimately, though, the trustees of the university get the final say,” Klucking said. “The students can propose a fee for themselves that the trustees could disagree with…I don’t think they’ve ever done it, [but] they get the final say.”

When it comes to deciding if a student fee should be imposed, Klucking said it is really just a judgment call. 

“If there’s something incremental that needs to happen, we either have to take a cut or some other service has to go away,” Klucking said. “Or either the students would introduce a fee on themselves…or we would implement a new mandatory fee.”

According to Klucking, CWU’s student fees are higher than those of most other universities.

“We’re very conscious of the fact that we don’t want to go and raise fees unless we absolutely have to,” Klucking said.