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Home football games kick off First Lady's initiatives

Dr. Jennifer Pinto, UC alumna and spouse of President Neville Pinto, focuses on worthy causes

For UC’s first lady, Dr. Jennifer Pinto, the Bearcats' first home football game of the season is more than a chance to cheer on our team, it’s a chance to help a worthy cause. 

For the second year in a row, Dr. Pinto is asking guests invited to the president’s pre-game tailgates to bring donations for the Bearcats Food Pantry. She asks invitees to the President’s Suite for Bearcats basketball games to bring contributions for the pantry as well.

After the basketball season ended last spring, she and staff members in the Office of the President and from UC Foundation’s events team delivered a carload of non-perishable food items and personal hygiene products collected during the 2017-18 football and basketball seasons.

“I hope to continue the tradition of service to the university that my predecessors – the spouses of UC’s previous presidents – pursued during their time here,” said Dr. Pinto. “When I learned about the Bearcats Pantry, I immediately knew it was something I wanted to support. National studies are showing the need is much greater than one might imagine.”  

UC's First Lady Dr. Jennifer  Pinto, wife of President Neville Pinto, stands at the door of the Bearcats Pantry. Behind her food fills the shelves.

Dr. Jennifer Pinto at the Bearcats Pantry. photo/Aleque Novesl

When I learned about the Bearcats Pantry, I immediately knew it was something I wanted to support.

Dr. Jennifer Pinto


On campuses across the nation, it is estimated that more than one-fifth of college students face food insecurity and about 17 percent cope with housing uncertainty. A recent study by Temple University and the Wisconsin HOPE Lab indicates the issue may be even worse, showing that 36 percent of students on U.S. college campuses do not have access to enough food to eat.

In response to this grim reality, UC opened a Bearcats Food Pantry, operated through Student Affairs. Opened in 2016 as an initiative began by Assistant Dean of Students Daniel Cummins, it exists with the help of a strong and dedicated committee, other UC affiliates and donors. The pantry’s goal is to help students in need by cutting their grocery bills and connecting them to other resources to promote independence. UC undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to use it.

In the coming days, the pantry will be moving to a larger space in Building 16 in Stratford Village. The grand re-opening of the pantry in the new location is slated for the first week of October. For food pick up, the original location in Room 2158 remains open and is accessible to through the Math and Science Support Center front desk.  Bearcats Food Pantry “to-go” bags are also located at variety sites across campus. A list of sites is available online.

Dr. Jennifer Pinto with UC Foundation staff members Kris Kalin, left, and Valerie Milinovich, right., at the Bearcats Pantry with donations collected at the football and basketball games last season.

Dr. Jennifer Pinto visits the Bearcats Pantry with UC Foundation staff members Kris Kalin and Valerie Milinovich, delivering donations collected at football and basketball games last season. photo/Aleque Novesl

The pantry represents just one of the activities Dr. Pinto pursues as first lady. She also works to enhance awareness of student health and wellbeing. During the 2018 Stress Less Fest, for example, she and President Pinto sponsored “Pancakes with the Pintos,” an evening of trivia and activities to give students a break from their finals’ studies. She also is active with Deaf History Week.

Working with the UC Woman’s Club, Dr. Pinto also supports the creation of a new Bearcats Pantry Career Closet to be located with the pantry in Stratford Building 16. The closet will be a resource for students to find professional clothing for job interviews and launching their careers. To kick it off, a clothing drive will be announced soon. The Woman’s Club and the first lady also are a teaming up to prepare holiday food baskets to help students during official breaks in the academic calendar. 

Dr. Pinto earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from UC and her doctorate from the School of Professional Psychology at Wright State University. As a student, she interned at UC's Counseling Center and later did her post-doctoral training in neuropsychology at UC’s Department of Psychiatry. As a practitioner, she also had a small private practice with a focus on deaf and hard-of-hearing clients. 

Full details about the pantry and its meal voucher program and other resources can be found here. In addition to non-perishable donations, students can help those in need through the university’s meal plans by donating meal “swipes” to the pantry, which then become vouchers for students to use at UC Uptown campus dining halls and at UC Blue Ash’s Bleecker Street Café. 

In addition to Cummins, Student Affairs oversees the Bearcats pantry with the help of graduate assistant Jordan McCoy.


Featured image at top: Donated food lines the shelves of the Bearcats Food Pantry earlier this year.

Make a Donation to Bearcats Food Pantry

Monetary donations can be made online
Those interested in donating items to the Bearcats Pantry can email the pantry to arrange a time and location for drop off.
Ideal donations are single-serving sized canned goods including stews, chili, canned meat, nuts, beans, peanut butter, cereals and more.