ORLANDO, Fla. — As many families continue to struggle with the effects of the coronavirus pandemic, college students continue to rely on helping hands, also.

What You Need To Know

  • Knight's Pantry provides food and other staples to students in need

  • Fewer students on campus due to COVID-19 has not diminished need, volunteers say

  • The pantry is staffed entirely by student volunteers

For UCF students, that comes in the form of a food pantry that offers much more than just meals.

When you walk in the Knight's Pantry, you’re surrounded by the essentials — everything from canned goods, bread, cereal, vegetables, produce, milk — and you can check it all off a typical grocery shopping list.

Then, you can add in clothing, toiletries and other common household goods.

It all adds up to relief.

“For me, the Knight’s Pantry was very essential in building into my financial stability," said current pantry manager and UCF senior, Eli Valentin.

Not too long ago, he was there shopping for himself.

“I’ve had rough experiences with food insecurity and the food stamps eligibility process," he said. "I remember one time I applied, I was eligible for $15 a month. A student cannot live on $15 a month.”

Even when the coronavirus pandemic hit, he knew many other students, couldn’t go without the pantry.

So they started offering to go food, curbside pickup, and, new this semester, shopping appointments.

He says there may be fewer students on campus, but the need is just as great.

“I never really realized the great extent to which college students actually do struggle," he said.

Even when the coronavirus seems to bring life to a standstill, he and the other volunteers will make sure the pantry is still stocked.

“Knights helping Knights. It’s the students that are really keeping the operations going," said Jenanie Kiriwas, associate director of the Student Union.

​The food pantry is entirely student run, and volunteer based.

Knight's Pantry started at UCF in 2009 and has grown to include partnerships with grocery stores and volunteer organizations all across central Florida.