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Campus ministry opens food pantry for students

December 19, 2013 01:15 PM


Did you know that many college students are dealing with food insecurity?


The effects of the 2008 recession are still being felt by many of us, including college students. A 2010 National Public Radio report, "College Students Hide Hunger, Homelessness," stated that many college students, confronted with increasing tuition costs and high unemployment, are having to make difficult choices. Many are deciding to take on large student loan debt, enrolling part-time, or simply dropping out. Some of these students are deciding that limiting themselves to one meal or less a day is an option they must take.


College students, especially those living in small, off-campus apartments, are part of a group that tends not to visit the food pantries and soup kitchens in the community. Many of these students are trying to get by on one meal a day, or less. SUNY New Paltz campus chaplain and pastor of the New Paltz Student Christian Center, the Rev. Dr. Dianna Smith, became aware of the need at SUNY New Paltz when she was approached by students in June of 2012. One student mentioned that she was bringing food from her home to share with her peers.


As soon as the need was identified, Pastor Smith reached out to area congregations and the faculty and staff of SUNY New Paltz. The response was tremendous and immediate when the community was made aware of the need.


Pastor Smith transformed her office in the Student Union. On October 17, 2012, the New Paltz Student Christian Center opened the first-ever food pantry on the SUNY New Paltz campus, providing an open-door food resource to students. By the end of its first six months in existence, the food pantry was visited 74 times by students in need.


Currently, the food pantry is dependent upon local donations and purchases made with donated funds. However, this past summer, the Student Christian Center applied to become a member of the Northeast Regional Food Bank of the Hudson Valley. Food bank membership enables organizations to purchase food at a large discount, helping to stretch the precious, limited dollars quite far. The application was approved, and the first food order was placed in September.


The food pantry "is about more than food, it’s about hope," said one student. Another student using the pantry remarked, "What you are doing here is what I hoped Christianity was all about—you have renewed my faith."


The New Paltz Student Christian Center Food Pantry is open every week and available to students on an emergency basis as well. The Metropolitan New York Synod financially supports the ecumenical campus ministry of The New Paltz Student Christian Center.





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