Every fall, Bearnanza allows alumni, faculty, staff and the greater University of Northern Colorado (UNC) community to make a collective, meaningful impact on UNC students. With different funds highlighted every year for the crowd-sourcing campaign, it sheds light on the many areas where students need support.
This year, the two main funds being highlighted for Bearnanza are the Bear Pantry and the Student Emergency Support Fund (SESF). These two resources are invaluable for students facing financial insecurities and hardship.
The Bear Pantry primarily focuses on supplying students with items like nonperishable food, meat, dairy items, cooking supplies, soap, shampoo and other necessities—some UNC employees can and do use the Pantry as well.
According to Bear Pantry Usage Data for fiscal year 22-23, the Bear Pantry provided support to 1,247 unique visitors amounting to a total of 5,015 pantry visits. During that same time, 43 Bear Pantry visitors identified the pantry as their sole food source for the month.
“In an anonymous survey last spring, 49.7% of student respondents said at some point in the last year they had experienced food insecurity,” said John Hancock, Ed. D., assistant vice president for Wellness and Support.
Hancock emphasized that at some point food insecurity has likely affected students in just about every class at UNC.
Similarly, the SESF helps students facing financial hardship. Students may request funding for emergency rent and utility payments, food, unexpected medical or dental expenses, mental health care, automobile repair, and other critical needs. Last fiscal year 52 students were awarded a total of $37,000 in SESF funding.
“The generosity of donors, small and large, is the magic that makes the SESF possible,” said Hancock.
Donor support for the Bear Pantry and the SESF is crucial in allowing them to provide for students. Small amounts can make a world of difference for students who are struggling and experiencing circumstances that interfere with their ability to focus on getting their degree.
“The Bear Pantry has been a game-changer for me. It eases anxiety when school is stressful, helps me eat healthier options when my schedule is tight, and provides me with nutritious foods when trying to make ends meet. I’ve been more successful at UNC thanks to the Bear Pantry, and I will forever be grateful for this amazing resource on campus,” said an anonymous student.
According to Hancock, the cost to support a student who comes into the Bear Pantry in a given week is about $8—about the same cost, if not cheaper, than most streaming platform’s most affordable options.
Bearnanza is taking place from Nov. 28 through Dec. 5 this year. Check back as the dates get closer to learn about additional funds that will be highlighted this year and to contribute. Less than a $10 donation can feed a student for a week, which just goes to show there is no amount too small to make a meaningful difference.