Suffolk CARES Pantry looks to grow after successful first year
October 16, 2019
October 10 marked the first anniversary of the Suffolk CARES Pantry and Suffolk University staff, faculty and students gathered to celebrate the impact it has had on campus so far.
The pantry, located on the 12th floor of 73 Tremont, is a resource for students at Suffolk struggling with food insecurity. Since it opened last year, the pantry has provided food and other necessities for 749 students, according to Suffolk’s Director of Student Outreach and Support (SOS) Amanda McGrath.
“Our goal is to never purchase food for the pantry,” said McGrath in an interview with The Suffolk Journal. “If we can raise food insecurity awareness by doing donation drives, that really is the goal.”
The pantry relies heavily on donations from students and staff, and receives donations from outside organizations such as Hope and Comfort and Bridge Over Troubled Waters. Donation bins for the pantry are located in most residence halls and academic buildings on campus.
Hope and Comfort, a charity out of Needham, provides donations of toiletry items to the pantry.
“We have received nearly 2,000 items from them since July, so that’s a huge partnership that we have,” said Janelle Grady, assistant director of SOS. “We’d like Suffolk students to be engaged with [Hope and Comfort].”
Grady said SOS is in the process of talking to Suffolk’s Center for Community Engagement about possible volunteer trips for Suffolk students to assist at Hope and Comfort’s warehouse in Needham.
The CARES pantry also works with Bridge Over Troubled Waters, an organization in Boston that offers help to youth dealing with housing insecurity and possible food insecurity. Grady said the pantry may further its partnership with this organization to provide students with products they haven’t had access to in the pantry before.
“[Bridge Over Troubled Waters] said that they had fresh produce delivered every Tuesday,” said Grady to The Journal. “So that’s something that we want to connect students to because our pantry, right now, does not offer fresh produce.”
McGrath briefly spoke on the housing problem in Boston and at Suffolk, and how it could tie into the future of Suffolk CARES.
“There is an opportunity that we’re looking into to try to help alleviate some of that stress for students who might be housing insecure,” McGrath said. “But we’re at the very, very, very beginning stages of that.”
The goal of the pantry’s anniversary event was to celebrate the “community collaborative effort” of the CARES pantry over the past year.
A Center for Health and Wellness (CHW) table was set up at the event to offer information about healthy eating habits, and to make students more aware of the resources provided by CHW.
“We’re really excited to be partnering with the CARES pantry,” said CHW Representative Annie Crossman to The Journal.
She said the new collaboration between Suffolk CARES and CHW aims to support students in “their physical health, their mental health, their social health and their financial health.”
“We want to address all of the things that make up somebody’s wellness,” said Crossman. “Food scarcity is something that very highly directly impacts someone’s health and well-being.”
The pantry has been a comfort for students who struggle to afford food.
“If you don’t have the money or the means to get a meal plan here, then it’s nice to know you have somewhere to go,” said one student at the anniversary event who wished to remain anonymous.
For students who may be uncomfortable going to the pantry for help, Grady said they should still reach out to Suffolk CARES.
“It helps when students meet with [the CARES directors] because we can talk to them about the resource that the pantry is,” Grady said. “Once they see [the pantry], they’re more open to utilizing the resource.”
For more information on the Suffolk CARES Pantry, email [email protected].