Gorilla Food Pantry gets boost from "the other" Steve and Kathy Scott

A food pantry that students started on campus seven years ago to help address food insecurity among their peers has gotten a huge boost, thanks to an initiative by a local business owner who caters to Gorilla fans. 

Steve and Kathy Scott share the same names as Pittsburg State’s president and his wife and jokingly call themselves “the other Steve and Kathy Scott.” In 2013, the couple opened Gorilla Country in downtown Pittsburg — a store stocked from floor to ceiling with Pittsburg State-themed apparel, accessories, home décor, and gift items. 

Not long after, they heard about the Gorilla Food Pantry and wanted to help pay forward the love and support they found in the Pittsburg community, and in particular, from Gorilla fans. 

This August, they began selling a t-shirt to benefit the Gorilla Pantry — a red shirt with the outline of Kansas and a 1950’s-era Gus. They worked with Pittsburg State to get the logo royalty fee waved, and with their supplier, CI Sport, to obtain a less expensive t-shirt to make it affordable to even those on the tightest budget. The shirt retails for $10.99. 

“It has been a trying year that has been very stressful for many, and I thought this would be a way we could help the students that attend Pitt State,” Scott said. “It would be horrible if a student had to make a decision between attending college and dropping out to be able to feed themselves.” 

Between July 1 and Nov. 29, the Gorilla Pantry was visited by 92 unique users a total of 229 times. 

Food insecurity is not limited to students at Pittsburg State; a national study in 2018 found that more than 56 percent of first-generation students identified as food insecure, and 26 percent of undergraduate students must provide for dependent children. The same study found that 71 percent are “nontraditional,” meaning they experience financial independence, are enrolled part-time, work full-time while in school, are caretakers for dependents, and/or did not receive a traditional high school diploma. 

Still other studies, including one published in the journal Public Health Nutrition in July, have shown the impact food insecurity has not just on physical health, but mental health. 

To help Gorilla Pantry and the students it serves, the Scotts earmarked 100 percent of the profit from the sale of the special t-shirt. As the fall semester wrapped up, the Scotts were able to present the Gorilla Pantry with a $2,000 check. A few shirts in size medium and large remain. Next semester, Steve plans to offer a new design for the initiative. 

“The Scotts are such kind and giving people, and we were ecstatic to get a check in this amount because it will help us purchase a significant amount of grocery items,” said Campus Activities Associate Director Eva Sager, who oversees the pantry. “We can’t thank them enough.” 

Steve said they were happy to give back. 

“We moved here from Southern Illinois in 2000, and we’re so glad we made the move. Pittsburg is a great community, and the university helps make it so. Pitt State people, whether they be students, fans, employees, or alumni, are all a great group of people, and we just love doing what we do,” he said. “This is an awesome place, and one of the best blessings we had was coming here. I see a lot of parents in this store doing college visits, and I tell them how much we love the town — so much that we decided to stay when we could have left.” 

About the Gorilla Pantry 

The Gorilla Pantry is located on the main level of the Overman Student Center, is open Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., is accessible to anyone who has a PSU ID, and does not require an appointment.  

To donate 

Items for the Gorilla Pantry can be dropped off at the Campus Activities Center. The pantry accepts non-perishable food, pots/pans/utensils, hygiene products, and cleaning supplies. Items like pasta, sauces, rice, canned meat, nut butters, and breakfast options are always in demand.