July 19, 2017

TO:  President Tony Frank

FROM:  Sue James on behalf of the President’s Commission on Women and Gender Equity

SUBJECT:  Recommendation for Employee Focused Pantry or Resource Center

Background

The University is conscious of many challenges employees face in connection with Fort Collins income and affordability.  In an effort to alleviate these challenges, the University has undertaken many efforts, including but not limited to, formation of a task force to examine the issue of affordable housing for CSU employees, salary equity exercises, committees to discuss and address the need for an employee living wage, and a dependent care task force to examine challenges faced by employees in connection with the costs and time commitments of child and elder care.  Affordable housing and salary are large challenges, and while the University has undertaken a review of these large-scale concerns, the Employee Assistance Sub-Committee (“EASC”) of the PCWGE was created to examine other needs presented by CSU employees, in relation to the Commission’s mission, that might not otherwise be identified while the University tackles the large-scale concerns previously mentioned.

Through the EASC, the PCWGE identified a particular need of employees related to true emergency situations.  Employees face the need for emergency diapers or formula, for example, and do not have the funds to cover the expense in the moment.  The need also arises when other community resources are no longer open or available to supply such products.  While the University offers an Emergency Hardship Loan Fund, the time involved in preparing the application, review of the application, and a determination of whether the money is granted often runs contrary to the definition of a true emergency situation.

The PCWGE strives to solve the problem of employee emergency needs for products that cannot be immediately obtained via sources of emergency funding or through existing community resource channels.  Research indicates that other universities across the United States have identified a similar need for employee assistance, however, most programs are student-focused, or exist in the form of a student-focused food pantry that stocks some non-perishable products like diapers and formula to which employees have some access.  Stock is acquired through various forms of donation, such as through negotiated corporate donations or employee donations.  There is a clear need on campus for employees to have immediate access to products, particularly when emergency needs arise after hours.

Recommendation

The Commission recommends that the President establish an employee-focused pantry or resource center that is stocked through various means of donations and accessible to employees when other community resources are closed for the day.  If space required for such a pantry or resource center does not exist among current University property, then the Commission recommends that the President consider requiring construction of a pantry or resource center as part of any affordable employee housing to be built by the University or on University property should such a construction project be undertaken.  The pantry or resource center could be staffed by volunteer employees, and/or staffing the pantry or resource center for a few hours each week could be made a requirement for obtaining products from it.  The Commission further recommends that, if employees volunteer to staff the pantry or resource-center, the volunteer hours count towards Service to the University.

Promotes the Mission and Goal of the Commission

The goal of creating a source of true emergency products such as diapers, formula, and other child-care and personal care options aligns with the Commission’s mission to promote an environment at Colorado State University that fosters productive and supportive relationships and interactions among people, and in which all members of the campus community feel empowered and supported by the institution and University community in pursuing their professional and academic aspirations by removing a source of stress and tension that negatively impacts employees.  This recommendation also closely aligns with goals of the Dependent Care Task Force and may align with the goals and missions of other campus committees.

Attachments:

Research Summary by Rachael Simon-Walker, a student hourly working for PCWGE, and additional information

Spreadsheet outlining existing programs at other campuses

Spreadsheet outlining existing community resources and contact information with supplies offered at closing times

Additional information provided by Rachael Simon-Walker regarding specific local resources.