West Liberty student helps lead U of I Food Bank

Coreas making a difference on college campus


Giselle Coreas of West Liberty, is one of eight University of Iowa students on the executive committee for the Food Pantry at Iowa, a student-run organization whose mission is to provide nutritious food and necessities for University of Iowa students, faculty, and staff in need, and to fight food insecurity through education and advocacy.

COVID-19 has had an impact on many community members at the University of Iowa. Student leaders for Food Pantry at Iowa have witnessed this firsthand, with a higher demand for food pantry services since its opening in the Fall 2016 semester.

Coreas, who is currently serving as secretary for the Food Pantry, and the other members of the executive committee have led an effort that has more than doubled the services to meet the needs of the campus community during these unprecedented times:

• Thus far in 2020, more than 400 clients have been served and more than 39,000 pounds of food has been distributed. Both figures represent significant year-over-year growth for the organization.

• On average, the Food Pantry at Iowa has served three times more clients and has distributed five times more food this fall than it was at the same time a year ago.

"Food Pantry has shown me that getting involved can make big differences in people's lives. Being a student leader is not only fun but also fulfilling!"Food Pantry at Iowa has given me the opportunity to have a first-hand experience in seeing how food insecurity has impacted our Hawkeyes more than in years past. Being faced with new and unimaginable challenges throughout this year is reflected in our numbers. I applaud everyone on this team for their hard work and efforts to ensure our operation continues to stay open, as well as all of the volunteers that align and support our mission to combat food insecurity. I challenge everyone to continue to advocate for our resources in hopes that one day we can break stigmas surrounding food pantries," says Coreas, a fourth-year student at Iowa who is majoring in Public Health.

Sarah Henry serves as the advisor to the Food Pantry at Iowa. She has been impressed by the organization's ability to rise up to meet the challenges presented by the pandemic and the derecho that struck the state of Iowa in August.

"The Food Pantry at Iowa team has shown incredible dedication to helping our community since they started their terms at the beginning of the year. They've had an unpredictable year of challenges and have adapted to overcome every one and continue providing food to students, faculty, and staff," says Henry.

"Their year has been defined by unprecedented challenges, and they have risen to the occasion every time, even while being full-time students and leaders in other areas and organizations across campus."

The Food Pantry at Iowa started after a group of University of Iowa students saw a pressing issue: peers at Iowa were going hungry, unable to pay for the necessities to survive, and attend college at the same time. In response to this, a group of passionate and motivated undergraduate students banded together to form the Food Pantry Steering Committee which laid the groundwork for establishing the Food Pantry at Iowa.

The steering committee began by collecting basic statistics on food insecurity at Iowa, finding a place to house the food pantry, garnering funding and support, and more. After a year of hard work and persistence, the Food Pantry at Iowa was successfully established at the Iowa Memorial Union. The Food Pantry at Iowa was first opened to Iowa students, faculty, and staff at the beginning of the fall semester of the 2016-17 academic year

Today, the Food Pantry at Iowa operates out of two locations: The original location inside the IMU on the Iowa campus and a second location inside the Pride Alliance Center at 125 Grand Avenue Court in Iowa City.

The University of Iowa is one of the nation's premier public research universities, dedicated to academic excellence, groundbreaking discoveries and creations, commitment to Iowa and the world, and a culture that prizes community, diversity, and opportunity.

Iowa is known around the world for its leadership in the arts, sciences, and humanities. It is home to the first and best creative writing program in the world, a world-class academic medical center and one of America's top teaching hospitals, and a can-do culture that fosters a campus-wide dedication to student success.