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Food Pantry Spotlight

February 04, 2020
  • Food pantry
    Stephanie Harkness

Written by: Stephanie Harkness

Coming back to school this semester I was preparing myself for a lot of changes to my campus life, such as entering sophomore year in the Dance Conservatory with an intense class schedule, living in an on-campus apartment, and starting a new job as an Admissions Ambassador – I was very excited, but also nervous. One of my biggest concerns was how I was going to afford living in an apartment. I’m originally from Toronto, Canada, but came to New York for college. If you’ve been keeping up to date with the exchange rate, the American dollar is pretty strong, almost double the value of the Canadian dollar. This, in addition to my already expensive tuition and housing fees, it’s fair to say that I was preparing myself to be eating a lot of Kraft dinner.

Food insecurity is a very common issue on college campuses all over the country, and in response to this problem, Purchase College created the Food Pantry. The Food Pantry is a free food resource for students living on campus. Celebrating its first birthday, the pantry was officially launched in January of 2019 by the Food Support Committee. Mario Rapetti and his team began planning in September 2018, and with the help of many dedicated faculty and students, the Pantry has been making a difference all semester long. When I first heard about the food pantry, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I thought that maybe there wouldn’t be a lot of food options or there would be very few open hours, but on my first visit I was amazed by the variety of foods and how easily accessible it is. I was especially happy to find a lot of my favourite foods that I like to cook with including; chickpeas, black beans, tuna, condensed soups, pumpkin puree, and eggs!

The Food Pantry’s mission is to “alleviate food insecurity, combat food waste, and promote sustainable food systems among our campus community.” Located on the lower level of the Library inside the Learning Center, the food pantry contains a large variety of food and personal products (i.e. hygiene products). In an email interview with Dashielle Horn, Director of the Learning Center, I was dying to know where all of the food comes from. She explained, “Much of our food comes from a local food bank network called Feeding Westchester. As well, many faculty and staff also donate a set amount of their regular paychecks to go to the Food Pantry through the Purchase College Association’s Make an impact – Food Security Fund.” In addition to this, Dining Services sends over large donations of things like soup or shelf-stable milk a few times per semester. I also was curious to know what the most popular items at the Food Pantry are. Dashielle informed me that pasta, eggs and shelf stable milk are usually the first to go, as well as, spices/condiments and snacks.

When I asked Dashielle her favorite part about working with the food pantry this is what she had to say: “I have two answers, and one of them is corny. The first is that I really enjoy the organizational aspect of keeping the pantry stocked and neat. The second is that I just love being able to help students. It’s really hard for me to accept that so many students experience food insecurity, and I never want to hear that someone has been skipping meals out of necessity. I am deeply grateful to be part of a resource on campus that ensures that no student will go hungry; we may not always have the preferred item or flavor on the shelves, but at the end of the day, the pantry has the basic calories and nutrients to tide someone over until their next paycheck.

As a student, knowing that this resource is available to me took a huge weight off my shoulders. The relief I feel knowing that I will have something to eat everyday makes my life so much easier. Purchase College students suffering from this insecurity can focus on their classes rather than being distracted by how they are going to eat. To get more information on the Food Pantry you can follow them on Instagram @purchase_food_pantry and get updates on events and new food.