SHOP -- Students Helping Oz Peers -- is an on-campus pantry that offers food, clothing and personal items in the basement of Penfield Library.

In fall 2014, administrators and students were discussing food insecurity issues, and whether it was something students on campus were facing, said Jerri Howland, the vice president of student affairs and enrollment management (interim) and dean of students. Students, led by then-Student Association president Emily Nassir, were passionate about the need.

"So, we worked to secure a space," Howland recalled. "We were concerned about confidentiality for our students, and also where our campus community can come in the morning, in the afternoon, or in the evening based on what their lifestyle is."

Ariel Gutman-Gates, a junior psychology major, coordinates the day-to-day operation with a team of students.

"All of our services are free to the public," Gutman-Gates said. "A lot of the things that we provide are food, clothing, hygiene products, stuff like that, but we do try to connect them to any type of resources if we can provide that as well." These services include various support programs, including SNAP and WIC, as well as any other resources that might help.

"I can totally identify with students not wanting to visit a pantry or being outed in that way," Howland said. "I come from Baltimore, Maryland. I grew up in a single-parent family, low socioeconomic background, and I myself, when I was a college student, had those food insecurity issues."

Gutman-Gates said that as word has spread, and the number of clients served contines to increase, those who have come forward have let organizers know how needed the service is.

"A single mother, who was a student here, pulled me aside and said, 'Hey, I just wanted to thank you because without this service I wouldn't be able to provide a Thanksgiving meal for my family this year,'" he recalled from SHOP's Thanksgiving basket giveaway.

"I have done a lot of things on campus in my three years, and I can say that last semester I've had multiple moments that I find my proudest moments," Gutman-Gates said. "I know a lot of volunteers even just come in even if they don't need the hours, they want the hours because they want to help. It's just a fantastic feeling knowing that myself and my peers are helping other peers as well."

For those with questions about the service, or who are interested in ways to help, visit the SHOP website or email