A photo of a woman putting food in a box with a glass door. The side of the box says \"PANTRY\" in yellow letters.
A student stocks the Little Ram Pantry kiosk in Cabell Library. VCU Business Services announced it will provide funding to support the Little Ram Pantry program. (Kevin Morley, Enterprise Marketing and Communications)

VCU Business Services joins with Ram Pantry to combat student hunger

Dedicated funding will propel the Little Ram Pantry pilot program, which offers food-access outposts across the Monroe Park and MCV campuses.

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Virginia Commonwealth University Business Services has become the first department outside the Division of Student Affairs to fund Ram Pantry, marking a step forward in the university’s efforts to combat student hunger. 

This is the first long-term funding commitment that the campus food pantry has received since its inception in 2013. Most funds will be used to purchase food, with a considerable portion coming from Feed More, the regional food bank serving Central Virginia.

VCU Business Services includes units such as dining services, retail stores and mail services. Its partnership with Ram Pantry reflects a broader initiative to support students in need through access to nutritious food options.

“It’s more than just filling shelves,” said Stephen Barr, Ed.D., director of Business Services. “It’s about giving our students comfort and assurance, which can significantly impact their well-being.”

The Business Services funding will propel a pilot program –  Little Ram Pantry — into its next phase. In 2021, Little Ram Pantries were established around the Monroe Park and MCV campuses by John Jones, Ph.D., an assistant professor in VCU’s Center for Environmental Studies and a faculty member of the iCubed Sustainable Food Access Core, to make food more accessible. The pilot has already revealed a substantial unmet need for food assistance among students, underscoring the vital role of the central Ram Pantry and the Little Ram Pantries.

Historically, Ram Pantry has operated with minimal formal funding from VCU for food procurement, making this new support a game-changer.

“The money from Business Services will go a long way to providing more culturally appropriate and nutritionally dense food for struggling students,” said Jones, the principal investigator of Little Ram Pantries pilot.

“Only legislative action can truly begin to erode this inequality,” he said of food insecurity. “However, we can mitigate the problem by taking action in our community. Bolstering the power of community and collaboration makes a tangible difference in students’ lives and is a testament to unity within the VCU community.” 

The central Ram Pantry is located at 930 W. Grace St. and is open weekdays from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Little Ram Pantries are scattered over both VCU campuses, and students in need can use them to acquire food 24/7.

Inquiries about the Little Ram Pantries research project can be made to Jones via email at jonesj39@vcu.edu