On February 26th, the College of Staten Island opened its first food pantry for students dealing with food insecurity This new pantry, in accordance with the CSI Office of Student Life, will be providing food for all disadvantaged students regardless of any verification of need.
This pro bono act is just one measure that CSI is taking to prevent food insecurity. There are over 1.4 million people in the greater New York City area suffering from food insecurity, meaning that about 1 in 4 children and teens are left hungry every day.
The numbers are even more glaring in terms of CUNY students. According to a recent article by NY1 that brought attention to the pantry, over 40 percent of CUNY students are experiencing food insecurity on any given day. As a college student, staying sustained through a proper diet is vital to one’s academic success. A majority of CUNY students also face incredibly long days, juggling work, school and home life. According to Carol Bower, director of student life at CSI, CSI is being proactive in its quest to fight hunger.
“The pantry is in effect thanks to funds from the student activity fees,” explained Brower. “Additionally, donations are always expected and quite often given from Staten Island citizens that are understanding of this issue.”
Since the recent opening, already 15 students have visited the food pantry. Brower explained that the location of the food pantry, in front of the Green Dolphin Lounge, was chosen to encourage all students to come collect food if needed. This central location seemed worrisome at first, but Brower acknowledged that students have not left the pantry disappointed .
“We have found that some of our students have approached the pantry with mild reservation or reluctance but have left extremely appreciative and grateful of the resources they were able to attain from the pantry,” said Brower. All students ended up, “looking forward to being able to come back at a future date.”
The process behind creating this project has been no small feat either. In preparation for this pantry, the college appointed staff to research what makes a student-run pantry successful. They scouted local supermarkets and recruited student volunteers who agreed to help even before the pantry was officially formed. Volunteers are meticulously trained to be both mindful and thoughtful of the students who come into the pantry abiding by its confidentiality agreement.
While there are always issues arising in any early stage project, CSI is sticking to their values in order to create a positive and inviting environment for students experiencing food insecurity.
Brower explained that “The College of Staten Island embodies the time-honored tradition of a community of people helping and caring for one another.”
This golden rule will keep the pantry alive and flourishing throughout the CUNY system. There are five active food pantries in CUNY. By the end of the spring, there are projected to be four more pantries active CUNY-wide.