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Suffolk CARES Pantry open to students in need

%28From+left%29+Marisa+Kelly%2C+Suffolk+University+president%2C+and+Gene+Lee%2C+president+and+CEO+of+Darden+Restaurants+and+SU+class+of+1996+alumnus%2C+formally+open+the+Suffolk+CARES+Pantry+on+the+12th+floor+of+73+Tremont.
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Suffolk CARES Pantry open to students in need

(From left) Marisa Kelly, Suffolk University president, and Gene Lee, president and CEO of Darden Restaurants and SU class of 1996 alumnus, formally open the Suffolk CARES Pantry on the 12th floor of 73 Tremont.

(From left) Marisa Kelly, Suffolk University president, and Gene Lee, president and CEO of Darden Restaurants and SU class of 1996 alumnus, formally open the Suffolk CARES Pantry on the 12th floor of 73 Tremont.

Caroline Enos/ Journal Contributor

(From left) Marisa Kelly, Suffolk University president, and Gene Lee, president and CEO of Darden Restaurants and SU class of 1996 alumnus, formally open the Suffolk CARES Pantry on the 12th floor of 73 Tremont.

Caroline Enos/ Journal Contributor

Caroline Enos/ Journal Contributor

(From left) Marisa Kelly, Suffolk University president, and Gene Lee, president and CEO of Darden Restaurants and SU class of 1996 alumnus, formally open the Suffolk CARES Pantry on the 12th floor of 73 Tremont.

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The Suffolk community came together on Oct. 10 to support students in need of food assistance at the Suffolk CARES Pantry ribbon-cutting ceremony. The food pantry is a part of Suffolk’s revitalized effort to fight food insecurity on campus.

“Students can now be confident that they will have a next meal,” said Suffolk President Marisa Kelly.

The pantry is the first of its kind at Suffolk. Located on the 12th floor of 73 Tremont in the Student Affairs office, it has provided 11 students with free food since it first opened at the start of the semester.

Suffolk CARES, in collaboration with student groups and university offices, holds monthly donation drives to help stock the pantry. Students and staff can drop off any non-perishable items in the Suffolk CARES donation bins that are located in the lobby of every academic building.

Harvard Pilgrim Healthcare Foundation, Pepsi and Sodexo have also donated to the project. Darden Restaurants, the pantry’s founding donor, will provide most of its ongoing funding.

“I work in a world where there is food everywhere,” said Darden President and CEO Gene Lee. “Our 1,800 restaurants are loaded with food, but our philanthropic effort is on hunger.”

Lee graduated from Suffolk with an EMBA in 1996 and is proud to return to the Suffolk community through this project.

“When others wouldn’t, Suffolk gave me an opportunity [for a higher education],” said Lee. “Now I have the opportunity to give back.”

A recent study suggests that 20 to 33 percent of students at four year colleges in America experience food insecurity. According to a fall 2017 to spring 2018 Suffolk Food Insecurity Student Profile, student food insecurity at Suffolk is a rising trend.

Suffolk had a food assistance fund for students in need before the Suffolk CARES Pantry opened. Of the students who received food assistance, 85 percent were in good academic standing at the university and 39 percent requested funds more than once. These students were also of a diverse range of races, ethnicities and backgrounds. Those who were given assistance were temporarily out of work or could not afford to pay their bills.

“Students have experienced food and housing insecurities and as a result, they are losing the ability to focus in class,” said Shawn Newton, associate dean of students. “[These students] often pay for textbooks and school before food.”

At the ribbon-cutting ceremony, President Kelly shared the impact Suffolk’s food assistance programs had on one student.

The student, who wished to remain anonymous, was in a car accident at the beginning of the fall 2017 semester. They left their job soon after the accident due to poor working conditions and could not pay their bills, were falling behind in classes and were denied food stamps twice.

This began to change once the student received hunger assistance from Suffolk.

“I’m proud to say I’m still a student at Suffolk,” said the student. “When I heard about the pantry, I cried tears of joy because students don’t have to wonder where the next meal will come from if they are denied benefits.”

The student, along with the pantry’s donors and the university, hopes more people utilize the pantry.

“People should not be embarrassed [to use the pantry],” said Lee. “They need to be nourished to excel at academics.”

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About the Writer
Caroline Enos, Assistant News Editor

Caroline is a double major in print journalism and government. When she isn't stressing over deadlines, Caroline spends her time drawing, listening to...

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Suffolk CARES Pantry open to students in need