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Class of 2017 pledges support to Lion's Pantry, the student food bank

The 2017 Class Gift Campaign Executive Committee announced the 2017 class gift, support for Lion's Pantry, on Oct. 26. From left, Cassie Calia, director of events; Arielle Scott, director of fundraising; Nikky Samuel, director of student outreach; the Nittany Lion mascot; Sis-Obed Torres, executive director, Steven Parr, director of communications; and Kamal Dhiman, director of logistics. Image: Laura Waldhier
October 28, 2016

Endowment will provide an additional source of funding to help end student hunger at University Park

Penn State's class of 2017 has chosen to start their legacy by establishing an endowment to support Lion’s Pantry, the student food bank at University Park.

The 2017 Class Gift Committee revealed the gift during a campaign event held today (Oct. 26) on the ground floor of the HUB-Robeson Center.

"The mission of the Class Gift Campaign is to create a legacy that our classmates can be proud of for years to come, by contributing our time and financial resources to making Penn State better than it already is," said senior Sis-Obed Torres, executive director for the 2017 class gift campaign. "By creating a permanent, annual source of funding to support Lion’s Pantry, the class of 2017 can help ensure that their fellow students can focus on getting good grades and not on getting a good meal. I can think of no better legacy than that for the class of 2017."

Penn State President Eric Barron accepted the gift on behalf of the University.

"Created to address the issue of hunger among in-need and at-risk students, Lion’s Pantry ensures that students won’t go to bed hungry; they won’t wake up wondering if they will have a meal that day; they won’t have to take on an extra shift at work so they can eat," said Barron. "Instead they can worry about midterms, papers and projects — so they can graduate, pursue a career, and make a life.

"Class of 2017, you are making a difference. In your choice, you have shown a level of maturity and caring that is an inspiring example for all of us. You have made us proud."

Lion’s Pantry was created to address the issue of student hunger on the University Park campus. The student organization works with several different entities at Penn State and in the State College community, including the College of Agriculture, Sustainability Institute, State College Food Bank, Residence Life, Food Services, the College of Hotel Restaurant and Industrial Management, Student Affairs, and other student organizations.

“College students experience hunger at a greater rate than the general population,” said Jaden Rankin-Wahlers, co-president of Lion’s Pantry. “I have learned that students who are struggling to get by, have amazing stories. They have the biggest challenges to overcome and face the most adversity. These students have earned my respect more than anyone else.”

Students who are enrolled at least half-time are ineligible to receive SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) benefits, making organizations like Lion’s Pantry one of a few options for them.

"The mission of the Class Gift Campaign is to create a legacy that our classmates can be proud of for years to come, by contributing our time and financial resources to making Penn State better than it already is." — Sis-Obed Torres, executive director for the 2017 class gift campaign

The class of 2017 is in a unique position to directly affect the outcome of their giving — the more that is raised, the larger the ultimate benefit to Lion’s Pantry and food security efforts at University Park, said Geoff Hallett, class gift advisor and assistant director in Annual Giving.

"Here's how an endowment works," said Hallett. "The principal — in this case, the total amount that is ultimately raised by the class of 2017 for the gift — is invested long-term. The interest from the investment is then made available annually, with the initial investment continuing to gain interest. The amount of the annual funding for the work that Lion’s Pantry does is determined by the amount of the initial investment, so if more funding is added to the initial investment, then the annual amount available would increase.

"In this way, there will be an annual payment that will continue in perpetuity," he noted. "And if additional donors wish to add to the principal, they can do so at any time. In this way, the class of 2017 has the opportunity to leave a legacy that will affect Penn State forever."

The endowment to support Lion’s Pantry was chosen by seniors from a ballot of three proposals, including support for the University textbook fund and a bike-share pilot program. More than 200 proposals were submitted for the class gift from the entire University community.

Members of the Class Gift Campaign will be soliciting gifts through events, emails and phone calls to students graduating in May, August or December 2017. Seniors also can make a gift at www.ClassGift.psu.eduonline.

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