By: Gabriella Aloisi
The Mobile Food Pantry arrived at Purchase College to promote the importance of food distribution not only to students but also to staff and the surrounding community.
The Mobile Food Pantry is a branch of Feeding Westchester, a food bank of Westchester County. The Mobile Food Pantry visits Purchase on the first Wednesday of every month The next Mobile Food Pantry is Wednesday, Nov. 3 from 12:30 p.m. to 2 p.m. at the Central One Parking Lot.
Every month the organization provides an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 pounds of food available for the Purchase community, according to the Purchase website.
JaDonna Williams, a junior who double majors in theater and performance and arts management, explains what influenced her to volunteer with the Mobile Food Pantry.
“I know that people can have a huge food insecurity,” she says. “They’re embarrassed and they feel shameful because they had bad experiences in the past and I’d like to be a positive influence for them.”
Williams also volunteers with Groundwork Hudson Valley, an organization that creates environmental change in neighborhoods, and The Possibility Project, a non-profit that converges teenagers to create community action projects.
The Mobile Food Pantry does anywhere between 16 and 20 distributions a week within the Westchester County area, says Peter Pozo, an eight-and-a-half-year manager and truck driver of The Mobile Food Pantry. He explains that he left his job as a driver at PepsiCo to come and work at The Mobile Food Pantry.
“We do distributions for churches, schools, food pantries and help many people who have lost their unemployment benefits.”
Michael Terranova, a junior playwriting and screenwriting major who participated in trying the available food at the food pantry, says, “I think it helps out people who are either struggling to buy food or at a point where they’re missing some items. That’s kind of what I did; filled in the gaps.”
Els Vandenbosch, a worker and volunteer with The Mobile Food Pantry since the organization started, says, “We serve mostly the campus community, not only students but also quite a few people from the custodial staff that come here.”
She volunteers at the Dobbs Ferry community garden and has always been interested in food. “Even among the students there’s quite a proportion of students that are food insecure.”
“I feel like sometimes people don’t have enough money to buy groceries so it’s kind of nice that they have this mobile pantry especially during the midpoint in the semester,” says Keturah Stephen, a senior dance major who took the opportunity to try the pantry. She’s most excited for the corn and eggplant that she picked out.
Will Stephen be back next month? “For sure,” she says. As for Terranova, he definitely will be back next month. “I thought it was easy, everyone was pretty nice and explained it.”
Anyone can attend the Mobile Food Pantry, including Purchase staff members and surrounding residents. With a wide variety of fresh protein, dairy, produce and grains products available there are a lot of choices to choose from. However, there may be a limit for each person per category, depending on how much food is available that day, according to the Purchase website.
“The rewards have been great, seeing the need out there and being able to be a vehicle to help the community,” says Pozo. “I always say don’t just make a difference, be the difference. Even if you are only one person.”