When schools in the area call for a snow day, most students rejoice; sleeping in and cozying up to some Netflix crosses out a hard-laid plan of meetings and classes. But for others, the prospect of a snow day could mean the uncertainty of heat and a warm bed, or even fresh food to eat while riding out the storm indoors. This past week, Texas had to face the struggle of being unprepared during a winter snowstorm, and though the Northeast is typically more prepared for these situations there are always opportunities for disaster to strike. According to the U.S. Census, the poverty rate in New Paltz is 30%, which is a staggering number for a relatively wealthy suburban college neighborhood.
Included in this 30% could be students, who have their own apartments and rely on campus food or places like The New Paltz Food Pantry on campus for help getting through the week healthy and nourished.
“We have always been a source for food and other needs,” said Rev. Donna of the Pantry. The pandemic has certainly changed their protocols for giving food to others, and they try to go contactless as much as possible to keep students and volunteers safe.
The pantry has also tried to adapt to new and upcoming needs of the students as the pandemic leaves some without extra cash. “We have partnered with a local clothing closet, Twice Blessed, to offer clothing needs,” said Donna. “On Sundays at various locations around town we [also] offer fresh produce and many students take advantage of that service.”
If students are looking for other places to receive a free meal or clothes around campus, there are some local options. Family of New Paltz is a local charity and displacement center that offers emergency food pantry items as well as clothes and crisis services. They also have furniture and household items available for emergency situations.
The Salvation Army often has low cost clothing and housewares as well for students to purchase.
If you are a resident of New Paltz year-round, there is also an application to receive a universal basic income for a year with Ulster County’s Project Resilience. Up to 100 households selected will receive $500 a month for a year to spend on basic necessities and groceries across Ulster County. According to the project’s GoFundMe page, “The second phase of Project Resilience will focus on supporting our seniors and our young people, addressing growing food insecurity by supporting our network of local food banks, and building support systems for Ulster County families that are living paycheck to paycheck.”
The money for this undertaking will be funded by community donations, and as of this past week United Way and Ulster County had raised $232,478 of the one million dollars that is needed.
Students in New Paltz should not be ashamed to ask for help if necessary, and there are countless resources available to students who have food insecurity during this global pandemic. By looking toward the future and partnering with outside organizations, the New Paltz Food Pantry stands to gain a larger volunteer base and help more students than ever before.