Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

Your School. Your Paper. Since 1936.

The Suffolk Journal

CARES celebrates five years of student support

JD Conte
73 Tremont

Suffolk University’s CARES program is celebrating five years of supporting students experiencing food insecurity on campus and beyond.

The Suffolk CARES food pantry was founded in 2018, in large part funded by a Suffolk alum who at the time was CEO and president of Darden group. With the founding donations from Darden group and support from Harvard Pilgrim, Sodexo and Pepsi, the team was able to implement and build a program for the students in need. 

The goal of the pantry then and always has been to give students who may not have food security a non-judgmental space to come to where they feel supported and respected.

Doreen Floyd, Director of Student Outreach and Support at Suffolk, is one of the managers of the Suffolk CARES program. 

“It’s been a place where students feel cared for and where they feel respected. I think that’s important to all of us,” Floyd said.

The pantry stayed open for students in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, even though  a majority of students were not directly on campus. Floyd said that the program has seen a huge growth in recent years, with requests increasing by 80% from 2021-2022, and by 132% from 2022-2023.

“When you think about that, it’s just tremendous,” said Floyd.

Floyd spoke about how a large part of the increase in use comes from graduate students and many students who identify as first-generation.

The CARES team is committed to giving students the support they need and accommodating the surge in requests. They have new expansions planned to roll out in honor of their fifth anniversary. 

The program is introducing the “Cares Cupboards,” which launched this week, Oct. 16. These will be satellite locations for the pantry where students can take what they need without needing to come to the primary location. The CARES Cupboards will be located in Sargent Hall, in Sawyer and the goal is to expand the reach and accessibility of their program.

The program is also planning to launch a “Fresh Pantry Produce” initiative the week of Oct. 26. This has been a consistent ask of students for the pantry to be able to provide, and they will be piloting this idea, where students will now be able to order fresh fruits and vegetables, for the remainder of the semester.

“I think it’s going to be great. It’s really going to expand what we can do,” said Floyd.

Amanda McGrath, dean of undergraduate students, has been with the pantry since the start of its journey. 

“I think that education is critically important to our students and to the community, the greater community of Boston, and our future as a nation, and so that education shouldn’t have barriers put up,” McGrath said.

McGrath discussed how the program is something special and personal to her, especially as a first-generation college student. At the heart of the pantry, she said, there are people who deeply care about alleviating some of the financial stress students may face so they can be more successful in the classroom. 

“Private education sometimes does have barriers built in, just because of the inherent cost. If we can make that just a little bit easier for our students, then that is my goal,” McGrath said.

In celebration of the pantry’s anniversary, the CARES team is encouraging students and families to give $5 for five years. The program is partnering up with Ram Rivalry, giving participants a way to earn points by donating to the pantry. They’re also partnering with Suffolk Weekend’s cornhole tournament, in which all the proceeds will go towards the pantry.

“Not all students are in a position to give monetarily, and we respect that. We’re asking for support in other ways, students could tell five friends or family members or suggest donations to those who are able,” said Floyd.

According to Floyd, the pantry can be a temporary or long-term support system for students. Last year, the program came as aid in a time of great need for Russian and Ukrainian students who weren’t able to access their bank accounts. The issue of food insecurity affects about 30% of the college student population according to Floyd, and Suffolk has one of 14 pantries that exist on college campuses in Massachusetts. 

Not only has the pantry seen a spike in the percentage of requests, but the number of orders the pantry has seen has doubled in the last year.

“If you’re reading this article, if you can tell at least five other people about the Suffolk cares pantry. That would be super helpful,” McGrath said.

The program is honoring their five years with numerous events in the next week. Students can see more about Suffolk Cares story in the Sawyer window display from Oct. 16-27, attend their Pop Over to the Pantry event from 12-3pm Oct. 18 or stop by their “five-for-five” tabling events Oct. 17, 19 and 26. 

Students can donate directly to the pantry through the CARES give smart website or donate via their Amazon wishlist.

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About the Contributors
Abby O'Connor
Abby O'Connor, Arts & Entertainment Editor | she/her
Abby is a senior majoring in print/web journalism and minoring in english. When she's not writing for the Journal, you can find her sipping a cup of coffee either reading or playing video games. She also enjoys spending time with her dog and going on hikes. Music and arts is her passion and she hopes to find a job writing about what she loves. Follow Abby on X @astreabbs
JD Conte
JD Conte, Sports Editor | he/him
JD is a senior from Wallingford, Conn. double majoring in political science and broadcast journalism. Aside from writing for the journal, JD can often be found in Studio 73 working on his broadcast skills. Off-campus JD can be found watching all the Boston and UCONN sports teams. He enjoys spending time with his family and friends in various spots around the city, especially in East Boston and the North End. After graduation JD hopes to work in a newsroom full-time or pursue a career in the sports industry. Follow JD on Twitter @jdconte617 Email him at [email protected]

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