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The Big Blue Pantry in Whitehall Classroom Building on January 27, 2020. Photo by Pete Comparoni | UK Photo

Kroger has just become an official partner of UK's Big Blue Pantry, according to a Wednesday press release.

Through the new partnership, Big Blue Pantry will "offer a larger assortment and variety of goods," according to the release.

UK's Big Blue Pantry was established in 2014 to address food insecurity on campus. The service offers non-perishable goods to students with a UK ID.

Kroger's financial backing has also allowed the Pantry's operator, the UK Center for Community Outreach, to outfit facilities with new shelving, furniture and office storage. According to the press release, the grocery chain has also donated refrigerator and freezer units.

This is Big Blue Pantry's first official partnership, according to Abby Essinger, The Center for Community Outreach's assistant director.

According to Kim Shelton, president of UK Sports and Campus Marketing at JMI Sports, the partnership was discussed while naming Kroger Field (previously Commonwealth Stadium). Shelton said that UK and Kroger representatives wanted "the relationship to extend to campus."

The partnership is part of Kroger's Zero Hunger, Zero Waste commitment, which was launched in 2017. That commitment "focuses on ending hunger in the communities (Kroger serves) and eliminating waste" from stores by 2020, according to Erin Grant, Kroger's corporate affairs manager.

This announcement comes nearly a year after the organization SSTOP Hunger sparked a campus-wide conversation about student food insecurityAt the time, UK President Eli Capilouto touted Big Blue Pantry as one of the university's foremost efforts to combat food insecurity among students.

The University has since implemented other programs to address food insecurity, including the ONE Community Café, which serves students meals for just one dollar.

UK's Big Blue Pantry is located in the basement of the White Hall Classroom Building. Its hours are:

  • Monday, 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Tuesday, 2 to 6 p.m.
  • Wednesday, 1 to 5 p.m.
  • Thursday, 2 to 6 p.m.
  • Friday, noon to 4 p.m.