Category: Pantries

VCU Rampantry Recognized by their President

Check out this blog post from Virginia Commonwealth University’s President Michael Rao, who writes about the Ram Pantry!


Is your the work you are doing at your campus pantry in the news? Send us a link and we will share!

Originally published by Clare Cady March 12, 2015

Origins: Norwalk Community College

The most common question we get from campuses looking to start up a pantry is “how did YOU get started?” We will be posting the ‘Origins’ series to share the tales of our member schools in their work supporting food insecure students.

Rachael Lederman DiPietro, CT Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA, Co-founder, Norwalk Community College

I didn’t even know what I didn’t know. That’s the best way to start off talking about the journey I’ve been on as the Connecticut Campus Compact AmeriCorps VISTA at Norwalk Community College tasked with starting a food pantry. I myself graduated from Norwalk Community College (NCC) in 2012, and so upon completing my Bachelor’s degree this past summer at Trinity College in Hartford, CT I felt a duty and obligation to be of service to the place that gave me a second chance at life. At NCC I learned about how to take initiative, how to advocate for myself, and the connection between engagement and academic success. So I owed them.

I started my VISTA service in July and truth be told, I knew non-academic barriers stood in the way of college persistence and success, both from my own experience and watching my classmates struggle, but I didn’t necessarily see the connection with food insecurity. That is until I started to google however. From approximately July to September I sat at my desk trying to absorb every piece of information (and there isn’t much out there) on food insecurity and college campuses. I was fortunate to have another VISTA in my cohort who had worked on a food pantry the previous year at another college campus in Connecticut. Erin gave me a tour of how the Three Rivers Community College food pantry worked, shared all the forms they used with me, and even graciously gave me the proposal they had used to college management to get approval on the project.

So that’s what I did from July until late September. I read. And then I read some more. There is really no data on food insecurity on our college campus and so I figured out ways to piece it together. I looked at data for participation and eligibility for free/reduced price breakfast and lunch programs for our feeder K-12 schools. Based on this data which showed around 48% of students were eligible for these programs it’s easy to see how these students lose this safety net upon graduating and their families are faced with expenses they have not previously incurred.

I then researched food insecurity as a general issue in our area. NCC is in Fairfield County, CT which is perceived to be incredibly wealthy. However, one in ten families in Fairfield County struggles with food insecurity, leaving them unsure where their next meal is coming from (FCCF, 2013). Almost one in five residents in Fairfield County cities live in poverty. Nationally, the average cost of a meal is $2.52, but this cost is $3.17 in Fairfield County. “Half of the food insecure people in Fairfield County do not qualify for federal aid” (Feeding America, Map the Meal Gap, 2011). Why does this matter? Because the discrepancy between the federal poverty threshold and the high cost of living in the area around NCC results in an unserved food insecure population.

All of this research, on the need for this on our campus was then tied to the growing research on food insecurity amongst college students. If you have not yet checked out Maya Maroto’s writings on the way in which the rates of food insecure community college students exceed the national average and that food insecurity amongst this population has a negative effect on student GPA, levels of energy, and concentration- DO IT! This all impacts ones persistence, retention, and academic success. Addressing food insecurity at NCC is directly related to our educational mission.

Space is one of the most political and precious commodities on campus and so the hardest part of the process was securing a space for the pantry. To do so we -myself, the Coordinator of Service Learning Courtney Anstett who is a co-founder of the pantry, and the Director of Adult Learning Kristina Testa-Buzzee under whom I serve- really had to justify the need for a pantry on campus. Knowing this was a growing movement on college campuses thanks to the network of CUFBA, armed with the facts I brought a proposal to the management of the college. The proposal was approved and then the fun really began.

Four years ago as a student at NCC I started an event called “Day of Thanks” (DOT). The idea behind this event was that rather than the 40 something clubs on campus all doing separate clothing/food/toiletry/toy drives it would be infinitely more impactful if we all worked together. A month long collection drive with all clubs participating in DOT was undertaken and culminated with a day of service and sorting. That first year almost 100 students helped us make PB&J sandwiches, sort through clothing, toys, and food to donate to local charities, and made fleece blankets for a shelter.

Building off DOT, which was now an annual event in its fourth year, we had a food focused collection drive. 2014’s Hunger Games Edition of DOT was a competition between 23 “districts” (made up of different departments and clubs on campus) to see who could collect the most non-perishable food items. Over 4,000 items were collected through the drive with our Medical Assistant Club winning the competition with a whopping 756 items. This event was held on November 13th and with the pantry not opening until late January, we gave away all holiday related items, along with items that would soon expire to local pantries. Everything else was held onto and this left us with a really strong start to the NCC Food Pantry.

The time between November 13th and our move-in date the third week of January was spent trying to figure out where to store everything in the meantime, how to advertise the service, what hours we should be open, how best to do intake and just generally what I had gotten myself into!

After having to reschedule several times due to snow the NCC food pantry had a ribbon cutting ceremony on February 11th, 2015. We’ve technically been open since February 3rd and in our first 11 days we have served 24 students.

Every day we are figuring it out a bit more and readjusting as needed. We still have a ton more work to do to get the word out and build a sustainability plan. However so far our volunteers have been amazing, our faculty and staff continue to stop by and ask us what we need, and our students are not only grateful, but truly feel like the school actually cares.


Quick hits of things that we’ve found to work (in our very humble and new opinion):

1)      Bi-monthly emails to faculty/staff asking for a specific donation- this week we requested oatmeal and cereal… because breakfast is the most important meal of the day

2)      We have Service Learning at NCC and the pantry is now listed as one of the sites where students can do service learning hours

3)      All of our forms (waiver, intake, recommendations) are through Google forms so no manual data entry has to occur


Originally published by Clare Cady March 3, 2015

Norwalk Community College Launches Campus Pantry

Check out this great article about the newest pantry on the block – congrats Norwalk CC!

Want us to share a story about your accomplishments? Email us at

Originally published by Clare Cady February 12, 2015

Origins: Stony Brook University

The most common question we get from campuses looking to start up a pantry is “how did YOU get started?” We will be posting the ‘Origins’ series to share the tales of our member schools in their work supporting food insecure students.

How One Pantry Got Its Start

By Casey McGloin, MPH, Co-founder, Stony Brook University Food Pantry

As with other public universities, the food insecurity issue on Stony Brook’s campus was discovered in small doses by the faculty, staff, and students who were compassionate enough to notice the struggles of their colleagues and peers. A faculty member brought granola bars into class and marveled at how quickly they disappeared. A staff member received a call from a student who was wondering what to do when her meal plan ran out. A student asked a friend to use the friend’s meal card so that he could eat dinner that night. A staff member noticed that a co-worker was struggling financially. Members of the Stony Brook community  were having food insecurity interactions. A small series of conversations began, and they grew into larger series of conversations.

In 2011, an NBC story with Brian Williams highlighted efforts by some college campuses to establish food pantries in order to address food insecurity among students. In 2012, a Chronicle of Higher Education article did the same. These two stories, combined with the conversations in which we took part, led two people on opposite sides of our campus, myself and my co-founder Beth McGuire-Fredericks, to explore the idea of creating a food pantry at Stony Brook. We separately discussed the issue and the potential solution with groups of students and administrators, found out about one another, and combined efforts. I include this detail because it is evidence of the grassroots nature of campus food pantry establishment.

Over and over again, the groups of students and administrators with whom we met confirmed the need for services to address food insecurity on campus. We took a second look at the commonly accepted phenomenon of the “poor college student.” Since few data are available on the prevalence of food insecurity among college students, we combined comments from these meetings with statistics about our Pell-eligible student population  and data from an informal survey we distributed during a campus event to justifiy creating a campus food pantry at Stony Brook. We formed a committee of students and staff and set to work to figure out how the pantry should operate. We contacted the directors of other campus pantries, consulted with a nutritionist to determine the best foods to keep on our shelves (as we wanted to create a healthy food pantry), talked to administrators about space, planned food drives, and finalized many other details.

The most challenging tasks were finding a space for the pantry, and coming to terms with the fact that not everything would turn out as we hoped. By speaking with various administrators, we eventually found an underutilized space on campus we were permitted to re-purpose to house the pantry. As for things not turning out as planned, after our pantry’s opening day we realized our carefully planned intake system was inefficient and redesigned most of it over the course of a week to better suit the reality of our particular food-insecure population. We had planned to open a campus bank account before opening day, giving us the ability to accept tax-deductible monetary donations; however, we didn’t achieve that milestone until a year and a half later. For our first year and a half, we relied on a combination of food drives, grocery store gift card donations, and a small budget from a larger charitable donation campaign on campus to stock our shelves with healthy foods. Since we opened our doors in September 2013, we’ve continuously adapted to challenges as they arose.

The SBU Food Pantry has provided almost 2,000 bags of food to our pantry guests to date. At the start of our second spring semester in operation, we are still learning. So far our second year has had many similarities and many differences from our first year, which leads me to believe we will always be learning. Despite the youth of our establishment, we’ve been contacted for advice by other universities/colleges exploring the campus pantry possibility for themselves, and we’ve been contacted by a multitude of news organizations to report on the rapid growth of campus food pantries. The conversation is growing.

Want to share your campus’ ‘Origins’ story? Email us at – put “Origins: for Clare” in the subject line.

Originally published by Clare Cady February 3, 2015

ECC Students Launch Food Pantry for Hungry Peers

Check out this awesome article about member school Elgin Community College – way to go ECC!


Want to have your school’s media included on the website? Send it our way and we will post it! OR College and University Food Bank Alliance on Facebook

Originally published by Clare Cady January 29, 2015

10 Ways To Fund Your Campus Food Bank

One of the questions we get most often is “where do I get funding for this?” Here are a few ways we have seen that are effective. Please know that not all campuses are alike, and not all campus food banks are either – we realize that not all of these options will work for everyone.

1)      If you have not reached out to your campus’ Foundation or Fund Raising organization, this can be immensely helpful. This facilitates exposure with major donors, can lead to a nonprofit sponsorship to gain access to grants, and could create a direct line for employees to donate to your food bank through payroll deduction.

2)      Empty Bowls is a relatively easy fundraiser to host, and many campuses partner with their art departments  to put it on.

3)      If your school has a Greek system, know that many Greek letter organizations are required to do a certain amount of philanthropy. On some campuses they have gone as far as adopting the campus food bank for an annual event, or as the “pet philanthropy” of a particular house or organization.

4)      Partnerships with local nonprofits can sometimes be beneficial when writing grants or doing events. Pooling “numbers served” within a community can demonstrate efficiency as well as bolsters your work so that grantors might pay greater attention.

5)      While it can seem cliché, a good old fashioned bake sale can raise hundreds of dollars – particularly if you ask for people to donate and then pick from the baked goods…when people set their own prices they often give more.

6)      Connect with the dining areas on your campus. Are there coffee shops that can put out change boxes? Here at OSU we bring in $300+ dollars by having 5 change boxes at our coffee locations on campus.

7)      Use a crowd-funding platform like Kickstarter or GoFundMe. Some schools have these set up through their Foundations. HERE is a link to one such platform that funds projects for students.

8)      Look at grants through organizations like FEMA or the United Way. There are often funds in these places for food assistance programs.

9)      Work with your athletics department – have a team sponsor you with a food or fund drive at a game or over a longer period of time.

10)   Does your campus do an annual charitable fund drive? These usually happen around the winter break. If so, see if you can get your food bank listed as a potential charity.


Email to have it included in another post.

Originally published by Clare Cady January 6, 2015