Standing With the 12th Can
The 12th Can, an on-campus student-led food pantry, seeks to eliminate hunger for students, staff and faculty.
- By Ryan Williamson ’24
- Photography by Leighton Jack ’14
- Oct. 19, 20223 min read
As many Aggies continue to face food insecurity, one organization is inviting others to live up to its namesake and stand in the gap against hunger: the 12th Can. A student-run food pantry, the 12th Can opened in 2013 and strives to eliminate hunger at Texas A&M University, bring awareness to food insecurity in college communities and demonstrate the power of the Aggie Spirit.
Serving students, faculty and staff who experience food insecurity, the 12th Can partners with the Brazos Valley Food Bank while sourcing products from campus resources such as the Rosenthal Meat Science and Technology Center and Texas A&M Urban Farm United. Open every other week on Wednesdays and Thursdays, the food pantry provided more than 60,000 pounds of food to more than 5,000 individuals in 2021.
“Clients can receive 20 to 30 pounds of fresh and frozen food as well as hygiene products through a process that works like a grocery store,” said Caroline Clayton ’23, a nutrition student who serves as the 12th Can’s associate director. “Many of us have developed great relationships with students and employees who regularly use the pantry.”
Clayton emphasized the constant need for initiatives like the 12th Can, with a recent study conducted by the Student Experience in the Research University indicating that 19% of students face food or housing insecurity while in college. Capitalizing on the heightened awareness of food insecurity that emerged from the COVID-19 pandemic, the organization increased the volume of its services and purchased a refrigerator to offer perishable items like meat, dairy and fresh vegetables. The 12th Can has also implemented pocket pantries across campus, which provide emergency access to nonperishable food items.
Due to its significant growth, the pantry has outgrown its current 384-square-foot home in the Mail Services Building. “It holds 5,000 to 6,000 items, but we typically give away 4,000 items per pantry opening,” Clayton said. “Having to restock so much of the pantry takes time and energy, which prevents us from opening more often. Our goal is to find a long-term space we can grow into in a convenient campus location.”
To keep up with demand, the pantry relies on donated food items and monetary donations from community members and former students. Though nonperishable food items are essential to the pantry, monetary donations help purchase items like fresh vegetables and specialty products.
While the organization continues to evolve and stem the tide of food insecurity, the 12th Can aims to stay true to its purpose of eliminating hunger. “Food insecurity is an ongoing problem within the Aggie community,” said 12th Can Executive Director Brooke White ’23. “I hope the pantry is continuously equipped to meet the growing needs of our community and that we remain a strong pillar of support and a reliable resource.”
Make a Difference: To coordinate a physical donation to help eliminate food insecurity at Texas A&M, contact 12th Can Executive Director Brooke White ’23.