Ceramics students use their creativity to help fight food insecurity on campus

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pennsylvania — Students at Penn State Ceramics recently donated $3,500 to the University’s student-run pantry, The Lion’s Pantry, which they raised by selling limited-edition bowls produced by students over the past two years.

The students’ project, called “Bowled Over,” evolved from the Clay Café pop-up in the Borland Project Space, which offered free tea and coffee served in student-made cups and mugs during student residencies. week in 2019 and early 2020. Conversations about food insecurity inspired student ceramics club, clay c0ven, to take their activism to the next level.

The students originally planned to make the bowls on campus in the summer of 2020, but the COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent campus lockdown forced them to change course. Not wanting to postpone the project, Anna Graef, who received her BFA in 2021, and Andrew Castañeda, who received her MFA in 2020, set up a ceramic studio in a garage and started making bowls at a time when much of the world was at a standstill. In the fall of 2020, they transferred the unfired bowls to the ceramics studio on campus to be glazed, fired, and finished.

“Bowled Over” was co-directed by Associate Professor Shannon Goff and former Penn State faculty member Kris Gray.

“Penn State Ceramics likes to lead with generosity, and so giving back is always on my mind,” Goff said, noting that she and Gray initially considered a collaboration involving units across the University. “Despite our enthusiasm and commitment to what was becoming Bowled Over, we could never have expected a global pandemic. We weren’t willing to give up, but scaled back due to COVID-19… It was a joy to see how the process emboldened and bonded the students. Bowled Over has strengthened our community, our connectivity, and our commitment to addressing food insecurity in the region, while making art accessible.

A 2022 Penn State graduate, William Li, who served as The Lion’s Pantry director in 2021-22, said he was grateful not only for the financial support, but also for the opportunity to collaborate and engage.

“It was at the initiative of a professor, Shannon Goff, that I found myself surrounded by impossible forms of clay and glaze, talking about the potential partnership between our two organizations. At the end of our discussion, it wasn’t the potential monetary support that excited me; it was the dream of engagement, community and togetherness that Shannon shared,” Li said. “At Penn State and beyond, it should be obvious that we need to foster our sense of community before we can begin to solve complex problems facing our community. In short, he takes steps to embody the feeling that “We Are!”

Student housing and food insecurity was an ongoing priority for the administration of former Penn State President Eric J. Barron, who established a University Food and Housing Security Task Force in 2020 to assess food and housing insecurity as part of overall efforts focused on access and affordability. for Pennsylvania resident students and their families. The Task Force completed its assessment and shared its recommendations in March 2021, and the University is currently advancing a number of new initiatives as a result. These include scholarships for housing and improvements to the student-run Lion’s Pantry at University Park and pantries on Commonwealth campuses.

For students who may be facing food security or housing issues, resources are available on each campus. All Penn State Commonwealth campuses have on-campus or community pantries. Additionally, Student Affairs has staff who can help students determine eligibility for public aid and navigate the application processes for these programs.

As the first point of contact, students at each campus can always call or email Student Care and Advocacy for advice and assistance.

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