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Over the past six years, Lara Scott, associate director of Edmundite Campus Ministry Community Service, and Kristyn Achilich, director of the Center for Environment, researched the prevalence of food insecurity on college campuses across the country and decided they needed to do something about it at St. Michaels.
“Students were vocalizing in a different way over the last two years,” Scott said, “Now is the moment, it is clear.”
This vocalization from students and the data collected lead Scott to the idea of creating a food shelf. The food pantry will have non-perishable foods, fresh produce, and with hygiene products. These include vegetables from the Farm, toothbrushes, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soup, pasta, and more.
Pantry opened Sept. 22 at noon in Alliot 204. It will be open all weekend for students, staff and faculty.
“It’s not specifically for any particular group of people on our campus,” Scott said. “It’s a space where we want folks to go when they feel like they need to or feel like they want to.”
There will also be a donation box in Alliot 207 for this weekend. Permanent donation boxes are located in Durick library, Center for Student Diversity, Empowerment, and Community (DEC), Center for the Environment and Mobilization of Volunteer Efforts (MOVE). After this weekend, the pantry will be open Thursday’ at noon until Friday’ at noon weekly. “We’re trying to focus on being responsive to what we’re seeing,” Scott said.
Multiple groups across St. Michael’s campus came together to create this initiative. These include MOVE, Purposeful Learning, Bergeron Wellness Center, Department of Student Life, DEC, and Community Action Health Network (CAN).
Victoria “Vicky” Castillo, associate director of MOVE, became one of the key collaborators this past year. As the 2021-22 school year ended and students left campus, Castillo watched food get thrown away at Ditch the Dumpster. “It was hundreds of pounds of food,” Castillo said. “So we decided we were gonna take some of that and it would be the initial stock for our food pantry.”
Before implementing the official food pantry, MOVE hosted pop ups in the Alliot lobby between the Green Mountain dining hall and the Campus Bookstore during the summer. This was a test run to see if the pantry would be successful during the school year. These ran for 24 hours each week throughout the month of July and offered people on campus the chance to grab food throughout the day. Brigette Hernandez worked as a summer intern for MOVE, creating an inventory list of the donated goods and data on what was being taken from these pop ups.
At a meeting before the school year, Hernandez presented a statistical analysis to the department heads, sharing how the events went. “For our first food pop up, over 60% of the items we put out were taken by students,” Hernandez said.
The junior seminar CAN Research Action Practicum is taught by professor Patricia Siplon. This course focuses on public health and the challenges within the community. In the past, the course focused on COVID. This semester, the course is looking at food insecurity within St. Michael’s.
CAN will be the marketing team for this space during the current school year. Groups created within the class, plan to create a video series on recipes using foods from the pantry. Ashley DeLeon ’23, is part of the communications and food security groups within the class. “In tackling issues of food insecurity, we want to make sure people are well educated on how to prepare meals that are nutritious,” DeLeon said.
The food pantry does not currently have a name or logo, however, there will be a competition in the future to decide and to get students involved in the space. “The word pantry is just specifically a piece of language that represents exactly what it is,” Scott said. “The group wants student people to know that this is a St. Mikes community initiative.”
Eliza Byrne ’24, is the MOVE intern and will be running this competition. There currently is no exact date for the competition. Scott and Castillo hope to begin this competition after the soft opening on the 22.
“We really just don’t want people to feel ashamed to go,” DeLeon said. “It’s for everyone.”