Pirate Pantry continues operations


Cynthia Clark

Laurie Gunderson, Park University’s first lady, passes a bag of pantry goods to Dean of Students, Jayme Uden, Ed.D., during a Friday evening pickup for Pirate Pantry.

Cynthia Clark, Editor

When campus activities shifted online at Park University, many students’ lives were turned upside down. There was a lot of uncertainty especially when it came to what they were going to eat. The uncertainty is still there more than a month later, but the Pirate Pantry is able to ease a few of these concerns with pantry pickups on Friday afternoons.

Since April 10, the pantry has been providing Park students with food and hygiene items in a different manner. It has operated on a walk-in-basis since it opened in 2018, however, due to concerns surrounding COVID-19 the process was changed.

“I’m excited we still get to fulfill the pantry’s mission even though the campus is closed,” said Debra Olson-Morrison, Ph.D., assistant professor of social work at Park University. “Obviously at this time there are so many people in need – students who are losing jobs. As long as we’re able to help, we’re going to help.”

According to Olson-Morrison, students were still able to access the pantry, but due to the escalation of COVID-19 it was becoming more and more difficult to maintain proper social-distancing protocols. A local Kansas City organization was operating with the drive-thru method and that is what inspired the current fulfillment process at Park.

“We started filling bags with what they thought they would want, and then having a grab-and-go thing, but they were still coming in groups,” said Laurie Gunderson, wife of Park University’s President Greg Gunderson, who spends a great deal of her time fulfilling students orders and helping deliver them. “All they have to do is pop the trunk, and they just give you the name, you don’t have to touch anything, or have them touch anything.”

Since April 10, Pirate Pantry has been taking orders until 11:59 p.m. on Wednesdays. Order pickups happen on Fridays from 1:30 to 2:30 p.m. Students are very grateful for the hard work put in by the Gunderson family, Olson-Morrison and Jayme Uden, Ed.D., associate vice president and dean of students.

“They’ve cut a lot of hours, that was my only source of income so it’s really helping because it really shows that Park University cares and helps the community,” said a male student as Uden placed a bag of food and supplies into the back of his vehicle.