Hawks Fueling Station For Student-Athletes Opens at AWRC

President Wheeler joined SAAC to cut the ceremonial blue ribbon at the fuel station’s grand opening. Photo courtesy of Robin Weinstein.

After the State University of New York at New Paltz President Darrell P. Wheeler cut the ceremonial red ribbon on April 4 alongside a crowd of student-athletes, the Hawks Fueling Station was finally open for business. As the newest addition to the Athletics, Wellness and Recreation Center (AWRC), the fueling station provides student-athletes with on-the-go snacks for practices and games. There are protein bars, applesauce pouches and even microwaveable ramen soup available for athletes at all times of the day. 

“Our goal is that [the fueling station] is a place of nourishment and engagement, physically and mentally,” said Matt Giufre, the Assistant Athletic Director and Student-Athlete Advisory Committee staff advisor.

For its opening ceremony, athletes, coaches and staff alike flooded the hallway looking to get a glimpse at the new room, located in the AWC near the Elting Pool. People crowded the station, trying to get the first look at the room, which was stocked with food items with tables and chairs set up. Freshly popped popcorn was also served to those in attendance. 

The athlete-exclusive facility promotes healthy eating habits while providing for busy students who may be short of time to plan out their nutrition for the day. Numerous collegiate sports programs have already incorporated dining offerings specifically for athletes, emphasizing the importance of utilizing food to improve performance, and SUNY New Paltz has been the next to do so. 

“We try to stay cued into what is going on in college athletics,” commented Giufre when asked about where the inspiration came from for the station. “It started just kind of organic conversation based on being attentive to what’s happening across the country and thinking about how it could work at New Paltz.” 

Thanks to funding from the Student Affairs block and snacks from campus food provider Sodexo, Giufre, Campus Registered Dietician Kelly Pearson and Athletic Director Renee Bostic worked hard to bring nutritional options to Hawk athletes, free of charge. 

“There’s lots of information about Division I [programs] doing it, and they’re doing it at a level that their money can sustain, without private chefs and things like that,” said Giufre. “Renee and I sort of talked about what’s possible here. What can we do? What can we afford? What will bring a sense of community and how do we continue to engage our athletes?”

This addition is crucial in assisting athletes in their day-to-day grind and fosters the connection between the student-athlete population and the SUNY New Paltz administration.

“[Athletes] practice right after class or right before class, sometimes it’s the morning or afternoon. Most of our athletes are good about bringing in what they need, but there are days you forget something. There are days that you need more than you realized,” said Giufre. “Rather than being an additional stress, let’s provide for that to help make sure our athletes have the fuel that they need to be high-level student-athletes.”