Canteen, UF’s Snack Vendor, Stocks Shelves at Field & Fork Pantry
GAINESVILLE, FL – The company that keeps 175 snack machines stocked across the University of Florida and UF Health’s campuses is now filling shelves at The Hitchcock Field & Fork Pantry.
Canteen donated nearly 1,000 snack items to the University grocer, stocking the Pantry with Little Debbie Oatmeal Pies and Zap’s Chips, as well as Garden Veggie Straws, a popular, healthy snack option.
Field & Fork provides groceries to University students, staff, and faculty, who may not have enough to eat—at no cost. Gators are not expected to prove financial need; anyone with a valid Gator 1 Card can shop at the Pantry.
Gators shopping at Field & Fork can enjoy these items in addition to the range of groceries the Pantry typically provides—including non-perishable food items and fresh produce—through grants and donations from community partners like Canteen.
University Director of Food and Beverage Services Matt Mueller was instrumental in securing the donation. First motivated to support the Pantry by a visit to Field & Fork in late summer of 2020, Mueller realized how necessary and vital this unique campus resource is to the UF community.
“I can’t imagine how difficult it must be to be work so hard while being hungry,” says Mueller. “These are our people. We’re feeding our own.”
Mueller is in a unique position to guide resources toward the Pantry: his department, Business Services, oversees restaurant and refreshment services for the University. After the visit, he began searching for opportunities to fill Gators’ grocery bags.
Mueller, along with colleague Mike Chambers, program assistant in Business Services, saw an opportunity when they learned that Canteen had a surplus of unsold snacks, thinking it might be possible to bring those snacks to the Pantry. They reached out to Ernie Orbotig, Canteen’s District General Manager, to ask if Canteen might be willing to donate some of this surplus to Field & Fork. Orbotig quickly embraced the idea.
“The moment Matt and Mike mentioned the [Field & Fork] Program for students, I wanted to get involved,” Orbotig said.
The request to donate the surplus snacks to Field & Fork was reviewed and approved by Canteen executives almost as soon as it was submitted. “Canteen’s response was immediate,” says Chambers. “Usually these sorts of things take weeks or months. They got it done right away.” Chambers expects this batch to be the first of many—which will continue to make an impact on reducing food insecurity at UF.
“We’ve talked to Canteen about continuing donations, and they’re totally committed,” he says.
“Canteen is becoming more than a business partner,” Mueller says, “they are a community partner.”
For information or to contribute to the campus impact of Field & Fork Pantry, visit: https://pantry.fieldandfork.ufl.edu/about/