One question for a FIT community member
The FIT community might be surprised to learn there’s a campus food pantry for students. Can you tell us about it ?
CORIE MCCALLUM, PHD
Interim Assistant Vice President for Student Success; Dean of Students
We surveyed FIT students before the pandemic, and about 42% of respondents had experienced food insecurity in the previous 30 days. Some students have to decide whether to eat or come to class, to buy that 18-by-24 canvas or get a snack so they don’t get a headache because they’re hungry. We don’t want them to have those kinds of dilemmas. To address that, we opened a food pantry in January 2019, soon after SUNY launched an initiative to fight the problem. There are other food pantries nearby, but there can be a stigma around needing help, and we wanted to eliminate barriers to access.
In spring 2023, 462 students used the food pantry. About a quarter of them have a prepaid meal plan and just come in for snacks. We don’t turn them away, but we need to ration what we offer so we have enough for everyone. We’re transitioning from a snack-based to a meal-based model so there’s food students can take home, like boxes of spaghetti.
I’m excited about our new freezer. Now we can offer meat-based protein options and more nutritious vegetables. There are also fresh fruits, vegetables, and salad mixes, along with shelf-stable items like ramen and canned beans. We order food through Aramark, but our team also shops. We have couponers! You’ll see me with a big bag coming from Trader Joe’s.
According to SUNY, about 50% of college students nationwide experience some degree of food insecurity, lacking sufficient food or good-quality food. FIT’s food pantry funding comes from Aramark, which runs FIT’s dining facilities; the Office of the Dean of Students; and the FIT Foundation. A SUNY grant paid for the freezer. To donate food, email [email protected].