This is part of an occasional series of stories about TEP’s $500,000 donation to the COVID-19 Community Support Fund through the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona (CFSA) to help charities meet increased needs during the pandemic.

Now that the University of Arizona school year is starting Aug. 24, the pantry coordinator is concerned needs will continue to climb.

To help meet the demands, the Community Foundation for Southern Arizona gave a $5,000 grant, supported by TEP, to help the pantry buy food for clients, mostly during the summer.

“I think the coronavirus made individuals on campus realize that food insecurity is a bigger deal than they’d ever thought,” said Bridgette Nobbe, Coordinator of the UA Campus Pantry.

The pantry had planned to open once a week with limited offerings in the summer. Instead, the pantry moved to a larger meeting space and stayed open twice a week, serving about 400 people.

Because some donations stopped during the summer, the pantry had to spend $200 on milk and $240 on eggs alone each week. Also, the pantry added expenses of masks, gloves and sanitizer.

While some students moved away in the summer, more employees, including janitorial and restaurant staff, visited the pantry because they lost campus jobs or had reduced hours.

Nobbe is trying to prepare for the school year, knowing that some students were unable to save money they normally make during summer jobs and internships. Usually, the pantry serves about 1,050 students per week during the school year.

“We’re so thankful to partner with the Community Foundation and TEP, which donated to the grants fund,” Nobbe said. “We’re such a tightknit community in Tucson and the UA. Everyone has a connection to the UA. Investing in students is something you’ll never regret.”

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