In survey data collected last year, approximately 40 percent of West Chester University students reported experiencing some type of basic-need insecurity, including not having enough food to eat.
During this season of thanks and giving, Essential Utilities, the parent company of Aqua Pennsylvania, stepped up in a big way to assist WCU students who depend upon the services provided by the university’s Resource Pantry. Chairman, President, and CEO of Essential Utilities Christopher Franklin, a member of WCU’s Class of 1987, visited the Resource Pantry last week to present WCU President Chris Fiorentino with a generous gift of $75,000 to help expand its reception and intake area.
The gift will also fund the purchase of tablets that will enable student-customers to initiate self-checkout of food and personal care items in private.
Since the Resource Pantry opened its doors in 2016, demand has increased tenfold. During the previous in-person academic year (2018-19), the Pantry served more than 800 students and recorded 5,100 total visits. During that time, it also distributed nearly 20,000 pounds of food; 16,000 personal care products; 2,600 school supplies; and more than 650 articles of clothing.
“Essential Utilities is honored to support the West Chester University Resource Pantry to minimize food and basic-need insecurities,” said Franklin, who currently serves as a member of the university’s Council of Trustees. “As a company committed to providing safe and reliable access to the Earth’s most vital resources, Essential recognizes that basic needs are critical to everyday life. We hope this donation will enable the Resource Pantry to help those who find themselves needing some additional support now, as well as those who may one day reach out to seek assistance in the future.”
The Resource Pantry is open to all WCU students and is central to upholding the university’s mission to ensure student success and provide access to a college education, regardless of financial circumstances. Offering a supply of non-perishable food, fresh produce from campus gardens, personal care items, school supplies, and winter and career clothing, the Resource Pantry helps eliminate barriers to degree completion and empowers students to learn independent living skills and achieve long-term stability.
“West Chester University is truly grateful to Essential Utilities for supporting our students in such an impactful way,” said Fiorentino. “This company’s actions demonstrate what it means to truly meet students where they are currently in their lives. By providing the basic resources that our students need to live as well as to excel, Essential Utilities is investing in their overall success and helping this university make a bold statement that it will work to ensure access to hardworking students no matter what their financial situations may be.”