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Leah Cassellia

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Leah Cassellia

Leah Cassellia

Kutztown University Student
Food Pantry
Kutztown, PA

Kutztown University is located in a quaint, rural Dutch community in Pennsylvania. It’s a campus of approximately 7,500 students. It’s here that Leah Cassellia is making sure students have the food they need to be successful in their studies.

Flash back to 2015. That’s when Leah, Senior Director of Student Union and Student Involvement, began noticing a significant number of students in need of food. She’d even heard stories of students increasing their rate of smoking in order to suppress their appetites. At the beginning, Leah and her coworkers would help by providing the occasional meal. However, noting the greater need, she jumped into action to do more. Along with the support of her staff, Leah began collecting food from the community to distribute, initially working out of a small closet in their office. Since then, her pantry operation, dubbed the Bear Essentials Pantry, has expanded. It now includes an on-campus pantry in the student union stocked with non-perishable items, as well as an off-campus site run in conjunction with a community organization called Friend, Inc. That location offers both perishable and non-perishable foods, as well as personal hygiene items. No one is turned away, and students may help themselves to as much as they need. And now, between the two locations, 165 to 170 students receive the nourishment they need to feed their bodies and their minds.

To learn more about the Bear Essential Pantry, watch the inspirational video or visit the KU Food Pantry site.


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