Last fall, SUNY Oswego opened a pantry with food, toiletries and winter clothing to meet a need among college
students who sometimes lack these necessities. The Students Helping Oz Peers project — or S.H.O.P. for short — opened its pantry in October in Room 3 in Penfield Library’s basement.
“Food insecurity issues affect students at colleges and universities everywhere,” Dean of Students Jerri Howland said. An October 2016 report by the National Student Campaign Against Hunger and Homelessness found 20 percent of students at four-year schools across the nation qualified as having very low food security, with 48 percent of respondents reporting food insecurity in the previous 30 days.
Some students report they must choose between eating enough and buying books, Howland explained, and some on meal plans choose the lowest-cost plan, though they may need more food. “When you have to make a choice between buying books and food, well, we don’t want students to have to make that choice,” she said. “Most of the time you suffer in silence until a peer or a staff member identifies there’s a need.”
Nearly $4,000 was raised to seed the pantry, including $3,194.79 through Student Association’s Miss-A-Meal fundraiser, $710 from the Oswego College Foundation Inc. and an additional $15 donation from a department. “We are excited about those gifts, and we’ve started an account,” Howland said.
Oswego worked with the College and University Food Bank Alliance, which offers a campus pantry toolkit. While non-perishable foods, clothing and toiletries have been gathered, donations of more are welcome, and monetary donations also are appreciated. Those with questions about using the pantry or looking to donate can email email@example.com or visit alumni.oswego.edu/givenow.