Food pantry plans in motion

By The Elm - Apr 11,2019@12:00 am

By Felipe Hendriksen

Elm Staff Writer

There will soon be a food pantry for students at Washington College.

According to Vice President of Student Affairs and Dean of Students Sarah Feyerherm, the food pantry at WC would be “a place where students who need additional food can access it free of charge.”

“A food pantry is a resource to provide food items to a group of individuals. In this case, we are hoping to supply nonperishable food items to students at WC (on or off campus) who are experiencing food insecurity and do not have access to food,” Assistant Dean for Curricular Enrichment Tya Pope said.

People in need would be able to go to the pantry and get the items they need at no cost. The food pantry will be run by the Hunger/Homelessness Committee.

According to junior Emily Dobson, a member on the Hunger/Homelessness Committee, the pantry will hopefully be open by the end of the semester.

“It will be called George’s Free General Store. There will be items for personal hygiene and other donated goods available in the space for those who need them,” Dobson said.

The space will be open for students, faculty and staff to take what they need, or to donate it.

According to Dobson, the space will still serve as a kitchen that clubs can use, but other WC community members can use as well.

“The idea of a food pantry has surfaced twice to me. First as an SGA [Student Government Association] initiative, because the dining hall services cannot be open 24 hours. Also, there are very few options available in Chestertown. Secondly, I was told the SGA wanted the food pantry to provide food to fellow students who were in need,” President Kurt Landgraf said.

The idea of the food pantry was brought to the SGA by a group of students.

According to the 2019-2020 SGA President, junior Nicholas Gottemoller, a group of students began calling attention to the issues some students face on campus regarding hunger and homelessness.

“A resolution was submitted to the Senate that called for the creation of a food pantry, where food items can be donated for students in need,” Gottemoller said.

According to Gottemoller, the resolution proposed converting the SGA kitchen in Hodson into a food pantry.

Undoubtedly, questions regarding the feasibility of such a project are arising.

“Food pantries work in different ways and, at this point, it has not been decided how exactly it might work on the WC campus. Tya Pope is leading a group that is working on the details of how a food pantry could work,” Feyerherm said.

The logistics on how the food pantry will be run are still being determined.

“The Hunger/Homelessness Committee will initially run it, but I hope to have it run by  volunteers,” Pope said.

Until a larger space can be secured, the food pantry will be located in the SGA kitchen in the Goose Nest. The pantry will also rely on donations, both material and monetary, from students.

“The idea behind food pantries or other methods of providing food for students who are food insecure is essentially to redistribute food instead of going out and buying more. So whether through individual donations or other ways of distributing unused food safely and quickly, the idea is that the food itself that is part of a food pantry does not have to be purchased,” Feyerherm said.

According to Feyerherm, this works well with WC’s focus on sustainability, and will meet two goals by providing food to students who need it while not wasting the food that has already been purhcased and prepared.

Pope has been in contact with other schools and programs across the country about food insecurity awareness on other campuses.

“They have told me the most significant resource has been the food security in the college community. Those students have helped stock and restock the pantry, help advertise the pantry, and generally help the pantry run. I would love to see WC students, faculty and staff rally around this cause and provide food insecure folks a safe, college resource,” Pope said.

“Students can donate food or items or can help spread the word. I think it’s relevant to remind people that it’s okay to get outside resources instead of doing without,” Dobson said.

For more information on getting involved with the pantry, students can contact Dobson at edobson2@washcoll.edu.

The Elm

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