By: Victoria Fennell
To combat hunger and food insecurity, Purchase has opened a food pantry in the Learning Center of the library.
The pantry, which opened at the end of January, is open to all students with a valid Purchase ID. It offers a varied assortment of food to help meet students’ dietary needs.
“Our goal is to help those in need so they can concentrate on their academics, not on how to buy their next meal,” said Mario Rapetti, Assistant Dean of Student Life.
The pantry opened in response to the ‘No Student Goes Hungry’ initiative created by Governor Andrew Cuomo. The initiative’s goal is to reduce hunger in schools across the state—from the kindergarten to college level.
“Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced today that 100 percent of all New York State public colleges at The State University of New York and The City University of New York will have a food pantry or stigma-free food access for students in need by the end of the fall semester,” said an August 2018 press release. “The accomplishment will make New York the first state in the nation to have such a comprehensive program to combat student hunger.”
While many embrace the idea of a food pantry on campus, others question the need for one when the school could do more to support those who suffer from food insecurity.
“If the administration took better care of its students, they would ensure that the meal plans were at least affordable so students wouldn't need a food pantry on campus,” said Purchase student Andrew Sanchez.
While food prices on campus may not be the cheapest option, Purchase faculty members do provide major support for the pantry—some being the main donors. Plans for future assistance are also in the works as the administration seeks to assist students with more options for their next meal.
“In addition to the food pantry development, the committee is discussing creating a food recovery network program where we utilize leftover food from the dining hall and allow other students to pick it up at the end of the day,” said Rapetti. “We’re also working on creating more dining scholarships to help those who need some extra meal blocks once they run out.”
The initiative has spread and students are reaping the benefits: fewer monthly bills to add on to their tuition, housing, and living costs.
“I’ve been asking people what they want to see implemented, and the main thing is a refrigeration system so we can have fruits and veggies that aren’t canned,” said food pantry volunteer Anaya Brannon. “And we’re already working on that. Everybody just seems very grateful it exists. Including me.”