Frequently Asked Questions about the Trojan Food Pantry

How do I qualify for the services of the Trojan Food Pantry?
Any currently enrolled USC student who is experiencing a food emergency/food insecurity qualify for the services of the Trojan Food Pantry.

What about Faculty, Staff and non-enrolled students?
At the present time, the services of the Trojan Food Pantry are only available to any currently enrolled USC student who is experiencing a food emergency/food insecurity. Please see our Trojan Food Pantry website for links of nearby resources including St. Francis Center.  If you have specific questions about resources, please email

How often can I come and how much food can I take each visit?
Any currently enrolled USC student who is experiencing a food emergency/food insecurity may visit the Trojan Food Pantry once per week. Quantity limits are designated by posted signage inside the pantry and may vary day-to-day based on product availability and demand.

Where does the food at the Trojan Food Pantry come from?
The Trojan Food Pantry operates in partnership with the St. Francis Center, a local family and homeless services provider that rescues food from businesses in the surrounding community. Current partners include Trader Joe’s, Costco, Target, and Numero Uno Markets.  Rescued food is sorted for quality by volunteers and stocked daily. Additional food product is purchased using donated funds from individuals and organizations as well as rescued/donated food from within the USC community.

Can I eat items past the labeled dates? Is it safe?
“Sell by”, “Use by”, “Best buy”, “Expired by” and “Enjoy by” dates are arbitrary dates set by the manufacturers and are not indicators of food safety. The dates are solely for the purposes of designating the freshness of the product. All labeled items are inspected by staff and volunteers to ensure no visible spoilage is evident before being stocked for distribution.

With the exception of baby formula, the date labels on food products are not federally regulated. Provided the food has been stored properly and is undamaged, it is safe to eat “expired” packaged foods.

The Trojan Food Pantry follows proper guidelines for food distribution based on current USDA guidelines. These shelf life guidelines can be found on USDA’s “FoodKeeper” app and some are posted inside the food pantry.

Is it safe to use food from dented cans?
According to the USDA, if a can containing food has a small dent, but is otherwise in good shape, the food is safe to eat. Deeply dented cans should be discarded. A deep dent is one that you can lay your finger into and often have sharp points. A sharp dent on either the top or side seam can damage the seam and allow bacteria to enter the can.

How can I volunteer to help at the Trojan Food Pantry?
USC student volunteers are always welcome to help out at the Trojan Food Pantry. Volunteers may sign up for one or multiple two hour shifts during operational hours. Volunteers will receive an orientation on their first day and will be required to complete a brief online food handlers certification training via ServSafe.

Interested volunteers should email the Trojan Food Pantry staff at

Does partnering with the St. Francis Center take away food resources from the local community?
USC is part of the local community and we realize that some members of our student community benefit tremendously from the resources of the Trojan Food Pantry.
Last year, St. Francis Center rescued 1.3 million pounds of food which allowed them to provide 130,000 homeless meals (more than double what was served five years ago) and over 18,000 grocery visits to families struggling with food insecurity within the local community – that’s more than ever in its 45-year history. Now with food donations from USC, the USC Village (Trader Joe’s) and several other new food partners, St. Francis is on track to rescue almost 1.5 million pounds of food a year! Through food recovery efforts and partnerships, the community and our students all benefit.

How else can I get involved with food rescue efforts?
Food rescue is the act of saving wholesome food that would otherwise go to waste from places like grocery stores, restaurants, markets, and dining facilities and getting it to those in need. It’s a great way to cut down on food waste and help others at the same time.  For additional information, click here.