Most college students are living on their own for the first time when they come to school. Due to this, basic needs like food and toiletries can become scarce.
With so many responsibilities to balance, students may not have the time, resources or funds to get to the grocery store each week. Luckily, the New Paltz Food Pantry, run by the Student Christian Center (SCC), is around to help.
The pantry has been in operation since 2012, when Rev. Dr. Dianna Smith came up with the idea for an on-campus food pantry.
“It was the spring semester and a student came to me and said that she had a friend who was having struggles with food,” Smith said. “I’m the chaplain for the Student Christian Center, so I just told my board I was starting a food pantry.”
At the time of its opening, space and resources were limited and the pantry was relegated to just two shelves of non-perishable food. The pantry was located in an office space that Smith shared with four other organizations. Still, the pantry was being utilized.
“In the first month, twelve students came,” Smith said. “It was clear that there was a need for this.”
After six months of operation, the SCC was able to gain access to the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York. From the food bank, the pantry is able to purchase goods for as low as 16 cents per pound.
“Some of the other things are not quite that cheap, but they’re less expensive than having to go to the store,” Smith said.
In 2015, the former chaplain of the SCC donated a refrigerator to the pantry. Because of this, students now have access to dairy and frozen food.
Though all items are free for students and staff, the pantry has placed limitations on certain items like milk, cheese, pasta and personal care items.
Any student or staff affiliated with SUNY New Paltz can access the pantry, whether you reside on-campus or off. Smith says that a majority of students who access the pantry live off-campus, though some on-campus upperclassmen utilize the resource due to “meal plan deviations.”
This semester, hours have expanded to six days a week for at least two hours each day.
“This is the first semester that we’ve really been able to expand our hours, and that’s really what we’ve aimed to do for all these years,” Smith said. “People are coming at different times and it just allows them to access the food pantry according to their schedules.”
Smith also noted that Sodexo has been a major help in expanding the pantry and making food more readily available. Though the pantry has grown exponentially since its opening, Smith says there is still room for more expansion.
“We’re hoping to expand even more and get some bigger space, so that’ll be exciting for us as well,” Smith said.
The pantry is located in Student Union Building room 322. Hours are posted on the door of the pantry. For more information on the pantry or how to get involved, you can visit their Instagram @nppantry, follow them on Facebook (NPPantry) or visit the Campus Auxiliary Services website.