SPRINGFIELD, Mo.– Missouri State University’s Bear Pantry has a new look.

“We’re getting refrigeration put into this room, which we couldn’t have done in the smaller space,” said Director of Community-Engaged Learning for MSU Alex Johnson.

The changes come just in time for the pantry’s one-year anniversary.

“Since the year that we’ve started, we’ve distributed about 5,000 pounds of food and hygiene items to folks,” said Johnson.

Johnson says raising awareness of the pantry’s existence has been key.

“This new space not only provides more items and healthier food, it also provides more confidentiality for our users,” said Johnson.

Johnson says the bear pantry is truly a campus-wide effort.

“We’ve had student organizations host donation drives,” said Johnson. “Faculty and staff have been instrumental in being the touchpoint for those students who might need to utilize a resource like this.”

Johnson says donations keep the pantry up and running.

“Just last week we’ve had a couple of MSU family members come and bring close to 200 pounds of food to donate to the pantry,” said Johnson.

He says the need for this kind of on-campus service continues to grow.

“We’ve seen about a double the amount of students this first month of 2020 using the pantry than there was last year,” said Johnson.

Johnson says he hopes the pantry will one day be able to provide more fresh food options.

Like fresh fruits and veggies, meats and even milk.

The pantry is located in University Hall and is open Monday through Friday from 9 am to 5 pm.