Food Pop Ups meeting a campus need that often flies under radar
Collaboration among several offices will provide a sort of pantry with free items periodically through coming year and beyond
Students and faculty have noticed Food Pop Ups run by MOVE in Alliot Hall throughout the summer months, and many have grabbed items that they need. The purpose of the Food Pop Ups is to point to a larger campus conversation about food and access.
College and university campuses are not the typical place where one would expect to find food insecurity, but it has become the reality for a lot of college students. Saint Michael’s College organizations such as Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts (MOVE), the Center for the Environment, the Center for Multicultural Affairs and Services (CMAS), as well as the Bergeron Wellness Center have been in conversation about this issue since 2018.
In a collaborative effort with Residential Life, Purposeful Learning, and CAN!, the clubs listed previously are kicking off a permanent food pantry location at Saint Michael’s College. It is important to note that while the term used in this story for this project is “food pantry,” the more permanent project title still is in the works. It is Saint Michael’s College’s goal to provide a welcoming space that provides students with food, other resources and is available to the broader Saint Michael’s community, said Lara Scott, associate director of Campus Ministry for Community Service.
The conversations around food insecurity, especially on college campuses, also grew out of the Campus Compact national conversation in 2018, though the effect of the COVID-19 pandemic “added and broadened the ongoing conversation” Scott said.
The United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization states that food access, food availability, food utilization, and stability are the four dimensions that come together in order to establish food security. Scott explained more about the conversation leading to the food pantry: “Food deserts, food sovereignty, and food justice are all regular topics in our work,” she said, “and will continue to guide the evolution of the food pantry as we establish the basic need of ‘access’ this summer and fall.”
According to research done by alumna Sarah Rodgers ’18 with the Director of the Center for the Environment Kristyn Achilich, “In addition to having jobs, going to classes, and learning to live in a new environment, college students also wonder where and when they will get their next meal.” This includes Saint Michael’s students.
Commenting about Achilich’s expertise in community food system assessment, Scott said, “she mentored Sarah through research with key campus stakeholders – employers and students – that led to our work today: an assessment of food security on our campus.”
Scott said students can expect some kitchen utensils (on loan), recipes, personal hygiene products, shelf-stable foods, as well as some fresh produce donated from The Farm to be available at the food pantry. The specific details of the food pantry at Saint Michael’s College are still in the works, such as the stocking and restocking of the pantry, the pantry’s location on campus, and the hours when the pantry will be accessible, though students can expect more details to become available soon.
“We see the pantry as a link in a chain of systems, structures, evaluations, and education efforts we have in front of us to truly support food security for our campus community,” said Scott. The final Food Pop Up will be in Alliot on Thursday, July 28 – Friday, July 29, from noon to noon. “Everyone is welcome and encouraged to stop by!” Scott said.
Food and Agriculture Organization. (2006, June 2). Policy Brief: Food Security.
Rodgers, Sarah. (2018). VPAA Scholars Summer Research: Campus Food Security.