The Impacts of Canteen’s Donations to Hitchcock Field and Fork Pantry
Food Pantries like Hitchcock’s Field and Fork Pantry are an essential aspect of every community. They help provide safe and wholesome food to those in need and improve food access and security for many people. Canteen, UF’s snack vending provider, has been helping to support Hitchcock Field and Fork Pantry by donating generous amounts of snacks for over a year.
Matthew Mueller (UF’s Director of Food and Beverage Services), Mike Chambers (UF’s Program Assistant at Business Services), and Ernie Orobitg (Canteen’s District Manager for UF) all collaborated to kickstart Canteen’s donations to Field and Fork Pantry.
“We saw snacks being removed from our on-campus vending units as they were nearing use by dates and asked where they were going. Ernie replied that Canteen would donate them to off campus community partners. We asked if we could donate them to our own Field and Fork Pantry. Canteen agreed and the concept was born,” explains Mueller.
The first donation on March 30th, 2021, included about 1,000 snack items. The pantry was stocked with Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies, Zap’s Chips, and Garden Veggie Straws, which are “popular, healthy snack option,” according to Matt Mueller. The second donation included eight cases of leftover Preview Doughnuts. The third was over 1,00 more snack items, including assorted chips and oatmeal crème pies. The fourth and most recent donation was March 8th, which included ten cases of Ruffles Potato Chips.
Ernie Orobitg states that these donations are just another way to say UF and Canteen are partners. “Canteen is always committed to helping the local community, and this is one of many ways we get involved,” he writes.
These large donations of snacks from Canteen make a significant impact on guests visiting the pantry. “Based on guest feedback, shopping with the Pantry provides access to better quality food, more time dedicated to their academics, and the ability to afford their prescription medicine and rent. We are thankful that we can positively impact our guests’ ability to succeed in their studies and work through access to safe, wholesome food,” writes Roselind Brown, the Assistant Director of Hitchcock Field and Fork Pantry.
Matthew Mueller is proud that he has been able to help coordinate the donations from Canteen to Field and Fork Pantry and impact the community in a positive way. “I am humbled by the work that the Pantry staff and volunteers do to support our UF community. I am humbled by our campus partners willingness to support new partnership opportunities. I am also excited that Mike Chambers and our Business Services department are also opened to helping those in need.”
Orobitg states that Canteen’s UF branch is inspiring other branches to donate food to local pantries. “Canteen and Compass Group have a program called Compass in the Community. The program is based on the involvement of every Canteen branch and its local community. We share every success story through that program.”
Having access to safe, filling, and nutritious food is vital to the community. “As a donation-based program, Hitchcock Field & Fork is very thankful for our community’s generous support, including UF vendors and partners,” writes Roselind Brown. “We are grateful Canteen is committed to donating food to the gator nation community through the Hitchcock Field & Fork Pantry. We look forward to their continued support.”
The Alan and Cathy Hitchcock Field & Fork Pantry, located at 564 Newell Dr (behind McCarty Hall A), is a free resource for all UF students, staff, and faculty. The Pantry does not require eligibility and provides weekly access to safe, wholesome food, hygiene products, and baby diapers. For updated hours and directions, please visit our website: pantry.fieldandfork.ufl.edu.