We recently interviewed Kiah Duggins, Chief of Staff for the Wichita State University Student Government Association, about their new campus food pantry.

Please tell us your name and current position in student government. Please also tell us a little bit about who you are: your year, major, and any other background info you’d like to share.
I am Kiah Duggins, the Chief of Staff of Wichita State’s Student Government Association. I am the senior Barton Scholar, and I am triple majoring in International Business, Economics, and Spanish. On campus, my involvement includes being a member of Wichita State’s Student Ambassador Society, an Ambassador of Diversity and Inclusion, and the Wichita State Campus Representative for the Clinton Global Initiative University. Off campus, I am involved in the community as the founder of The Princess Project, a college readiness initiative that seeks to empower under-served high school girls through mentoring, community involvement, and civic engagement.

How did you get involved in SGA?
I originally got involved in SGA in the fall of 2014 as the association’s first Honors College Senator. After my term as the Honors College Senator, I applied to my current position as the Chief of Staff.

Why do you feel that the university needs a food pantry?
After conducting a survey, SGA found the following statistics:

  • 56% of domestic WSU students (and 67% of international WSU students) surveyed know at least one to three other students who face food insecurity.
  • 33% of domestic WSU students (and 66% of international WSU students) surveyed have admitted to skipping a meal because they could not afford to eat.
  • 50% of domestic WSU students (and 100% of international WSU students) surveyed say they would benefit from a food pantry on campus.
  • 95% of domestic WSU students (and 100% of international WSU students) surveyed support a food pantry on campus.
  • 25% of domestic WSU students (and 83% of international WSU students) surveyed said they would use a food pantry at least once a month.

How did you get involved in this effort?
I got involved in this effort in the summer of 2015 when the Student Body President, Joseph Shepard, had the idea to start a campus food pantry after students came into the SGA office expressing their inability to afford food. It was alarming and enraging to me that students who contribute so much to the university can not even meet their basic needs, so I was highly motivated to take on this project.

What have been the steps involved in creating the food pantry?
I created a proposal for the food pantry and got the idea approved by the senate by passing a resolution. After I talked with the WSU campus recreation center and solidified a place for the food pantry to be located, SGA launched the #DonateAngry Food Drive in November. After the food drive, we moved the donations over to the Heskett Center and began distributing food. Senators have used their office hours to advertise the food pantry to student organizations, and I have used my office hours to advertise the food pantry to campus departments.

I am currently trying to get the campus food pantry added to the United Way 2-1-1 list; collaborating with Emporia State University’s Corky’s Cupboard to gain insight on how to run a campus food pantry; researching ways to advertise the pantry to WSU alumnil and trying to get the food pantry placed under a 501(c)(3) organization’s umbrella so that it can collaborate with the Kansas Food Bank.

What have been the biggest challenges with this project?
The biggest challenges with this project have been marketing the pantry to those who could benefit from it and recruiting volunteers. To gain consistent volunteers, we have recently started an Adopt-A-Week initiative that encourages organizations to send members to volunteer for the pantry on a week of their choosing.

What advice would you give to student leaders at other schools who might want to open a campus food pantry?
I would advise student leaders at other schools to get a few other major campus organizations to partner with them in the creation of their campus food pantry. Having a network of support will hopefully improve the pantry’s sustainability, outreach, and impact, and will also help to create a sense of community and shared civic responsibility on campus.