By Daniela Rodriguez
The Purchase food pantry is back! Its new Fort Awesome location, across from Starbucks, is now open to the public. The food pantry hours are: Monday and Wednesday 12 -5 p.m., Tuesday 2-6 p.m., Thursday 12-4:30 p.m., and Friday 12-4 p.m. The pantry offers students good quality, nutritious food at no cost.
“The food pantry is really for anyone here,” said Lizz Elvira, assistant director of the Multicultural Center, who also runs the pantry. “Nobody should really feel like they have to go hungry, so I hope everyone takes advantage of it.”
The pantry’s main purpose is to decrease food insecurity on campus, an issue that affects many college students across the country.
According to a report by Students Against Hunger, 48% of students surveyed across the country experienced low or very low levels of food security. These circumstances drive students to take drastic measures, like cutting the size of meals or just skipping them, actions that often impact their abilities to function properly.
“Everything around here is so expensive,” said Rebecca Moore, a sophomore film student. “Shopping in White Plains is not very affordable and the Market on campus has ridiculous prices.”
Even though the pantry has always been there to serve students, its previous location in the library’s basement had very limited space and low visibility among the student body, failing to provide as much aid as they hoped.
“There was very limited stock,” said Tina Maynard, a sophomore psychology major who used to frequent the old pantry. “There was very limited space and not many people knew about it, so it was usually really empty.”
After listening to student feedback, the Office of Student Affairs and Enrollment Management, which is in charge of the pantry, realized it was time for a change and decided to move into the old More Store, the former on-campus convenience store.
“Once it became available, we knew we had to take it,” said Elvira, referring to the More Store. “More people know about it, more people know how to get there, and it’s an easier spot for people coming in with donations, so we thought it was the perfect place.”
Since its re-opening, the pantry has received a significantly greater influx of people, both customers and donors.
“I think the bigger space is really improving things,” said Elvira. “We’ve been able to put more food on the shelves and maintain a certain level of organization. Our traffic has definitely been increasing, so that means we’re doing something right!”
Though the environment has changed, the process of getting food remains the same. Since the pantry works with the USDA– which stands for United States Department of Agriculture– students must fill out some light paperwork to prove their eligibility. The paperwork must only be submitted once; after that, students have access to the pantry’s inventory.
The pantry is able to offer a wide variety of items–like bottled water, canned goods, and microwaveable foods– at no cost, by accepting donations, both monetary and physical.
“Anyone who wants to donate can drop by when we’re open,” said Elvira. “They can also set up an appointment with me, or donate to our fund through the Purchase website.”