Helping Hand food pantry plus offers career closet

University facility for students in need expands, relocates to Bowman Hall
Sarah Snyder, Helping Hand food pantry coordinator, at right, and volunteer student Miranda Danzeisen work in the new career closet in Bowman Hall. The career closet offers free career wear to students who need it. / UW-Stout photos by Chris Cooper
Pam Powers | September 20, 2019

Career clothing might help get that dream internship or job.

University of Wisconsin-Stout’s Helping Hand food plus pantry can help. Helping Hand on Sept. 18 opened its career closet, offering free career wear to students who need it. From dresses to blazers and shoes to scarves, the closet has career wear for men and women in many sizes.

“In our society, first impressions mean a lot,” said Sarah Snyder, pantry coordinator and residence life coordinator in University Housing. “If students are going to the career fair or interviewing for an internship or job, it’s important they look the way they are expected to. Part of college is getting internships and jobs. Having the service I hope will help students be successful.”

The university’s Fall Career Conference, with 400 employers, is 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 24, and Wednesday, Sept. 25, in the Multipurpose Room of the Sports and Fitness Center.

Miranda Danzeisen sorts clothes in the career closet.

The clothing in the closet has been donated. All of the clothing is new or gently worn, Snyder said.

The career closet also will offer winter clothing and graduation gowns for those who need them. Donations of winter clothing, including coats, gloves, hats and boots are needed, Snyder said. Graduation gowns are also needed. Soon, an area to try on clothes will be added to the career closet.

The food pantry opened in April. At the start of the school year it moved to the rooms 403C and D on the fourth floor of Bowman HallSnyder said. “This is a student services building,” Snyder said. “It is accessible, and it is a building students are familiar with.”

Snyder saw a need for a food pantry. More than one-third of university students nationally are food insecure. In 2015, 1,917 UW-Stout students, 23%, were at or below the 150% level of the federal poverty level. According to a 2018 survey by the Wisconsin Hope Lab, 36% of university students in Wisconsin were food insecure, which affects their ability to concentrate and can impact their grades. Many reported skipping meals or cutting meal sizes because of lack of money.

Helping Hand is used by 28 students but sees about two to five new students each week, Snyder said.

New this year in the pantry is a freezer and a refrigerator. “We are now able to provide fresh foods,” Snyder said. “We just got lettuce in today. That’s exciting. We will be getting fresh fruits and vegetables. Fresh items taste better. Healthy foods tend to be more expensive.”

Sara Snyder places a pair of shoes in the career closet.

Helping Hand has many shelf-stable foods, personal hygiene items, laundry supplies and school supplies. Students fill out a one-time form to use Helping Hand, although all information is confidential.

An account has been set up with Stout University Foundation to make donations to Helping Hand. Checks must be made to the Foundation and designate Helping Hand food pantry. Mail donations to: Stout University Foundation, 320 S. Broadway St., Menomonie, Wis., 54751. To contact the Foundation, call 715-232-5161.

Items may also be donated when the pantry is open or by appointment. The pantry is open Tuesdays from 2:15 to 4:15 p.m., Wednesdays 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. and Thursdays 2:15 to 4:15 p.m. For an appointment email or visit the Facebook page Stout Helping Hand. Items most needed are peanut butter, bread and snack items such as individual bags of cookies or granola bars.

Miranda Danzeisen, a senior applied science major from Durand who plans to earn her master’s degree in clinical mental health counseling, volunteers at Helping Hand. “I like people,” she said. “I care about people. I know it’s hard to ask for help. It’s super exciting when people have the courage to come up here. We are here to help them and give them what they need. You can’t thrive at school if you are hungry.”

The clothing in the career closet is stylish, Danzeisen noted. “We have a Career Conference two times a year,” she added. “A lot of people are getting internships and jobs. It’s hard to go in feeling confident if you don’t feel you’ve dressed appropriately. Having the clothes will help them feel confident when they go to interviews.”

UW-Stout is Wisconsin’s Polytechnic University, with a focus on applied learning, collaboration with business and industry, and career outcomes.



Miranda Danzeisen sorts clothes in the career closet.

Sara Snyder places a pair of shoes in the career closet.

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