LCCC's Cougar Cabinet Combats COVID-19
Photo by Cassidy Klingman
Bags containing product from the Cougar Cabinet
In their third year of operation, LCCC’s Cougar Cabinet food pantries continue to fight against food insecurity in the school community, especially during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Schnecksville and Allentown locations previously operated as client choice pantries, meaning that students, faculty, and staff members were able to come inside and choose which items they needed. Once the pandemic hit, they began offering pre-packaged bags of food and personal care items.
Director of Student Life and coordinator of the Cougar Cabinet Gene Eden explains how the procedure changed.
“We only shut down for a week or two in March until we could open back up,” Eden said. “When the buildings were closed, we brought bags to an exterior entrance for pick-up.” Food insecurity is widespread. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, more than 1.5 million people experienced hunger each day prior to the pandemic in Pennsylvania alone. Since the start of the pandemic, one out of every five workers has filed for assistance. “With the economic impacts of the pandemic,” Eden said, “it’s important to have resources available.”
Last year, the Allentown pantry served approximately 180 individuals. When including family and household members, that number grows to about 500. The Cougar Cabinet partners with Second Harvest Food Bank to help local communities. “Second Harvest Food Bank has been an incredible community partner, especially through the pandemic,” Eden said. “They give us guidance and support, and keep us updated about deliveries, current policies, and updates from the state.”
The pantries are funded by the LCCC Foundation, United Way, the Phantoms, Wawa, and other private donors, as well individuals who contribute monthly donations. “We are very appreciative of the support that makes this possible,” Eden said. “It is a community effort -- thank you to everyone.”