Rutgers University

Rutgers Food Pantry Serves Those in Need

96ccaf4f48711394e299_2d34a7d9ec8c95e093b0_rsz_rutgers_food_pantry_photo.jpg
Kerri Willson, director of Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships, works with Taylor Miller, a Rutgers student, at the food pantry.
96ccaf4f48711394e299_2d34a7d9ec8c95e093b0_rsz_rutgers_food_pantry_photo.jpg

You always hear jokes about the starving college student. But you rarely hear cases of serious need, with students having little or no access to food.

It’s important to bear in mind that “there is no singular story of who is a college student,” said Kerri Willson, director of Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships. “Not every college student is 18 to 22 years old. Some people are returning to college.”

And some are quietly struggling.

Sign Up for E-News

This summer, Rutgers University became the latest of at least five New Jersey colleges and universities — and more than 300 nationally — to install a free food pantry on campus at the Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships, at 39 Union Street.

Food insecurity is defined by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) as having “a limited or uncertain access to nutritious, safe foods necessary to lead a healthy lifestyle.”

“We had a soft opening in the summer catering to about 30 students,” said Willson, who said she expects a peak towards the end of the month and November as students become more and more aware of the food pantry.

“Not every college student has that family support and needs to make critical decisions,” she said. “Do they live on campus for a cheaper meal plan so they can buy textbooks?”

The food pantry was the desire of Leslie Fehrenbach, who retired as the secretary of the Governing Boards of Rutgers University in 2015 with the partnership of Rutgers Against Hunger (RAH), a university-wide initiative working to address the issues of hunger across New Jersey.

RAH, which was formed in 2008, works to increase awareness of hunger, encourage activism and service to tackle hunger, stimulate research to assist those in need and provide immediate relief through food drives and other events to raise money and collect food.

Wilson said the Rutgers Food Pantry runs on a referral basis from the Dean of Students or another administrative entity. But if a student comes to them for food, none will be turned away. 

“Taking the Maslow’s hierarchy of needs theory, if one basic need such as food is not met, it causes a ripple effect leading to struggles with academics [and so on],” she said.

Willson said the food pantry does not solve the problem; it is a Band-Aid.

“It makes sure a basic need is met and that the support is there,” she said, noting there are 20 food pantries now operating in New Brunswick.

Sigma Pi Fraternity through their ACE (Altruistic Campus Experience) project purchased and installed all the shelving for the food pantry, donated food items as well as picked up the first installation of donations from RAH and stocked the shelves.

Alex Orsini, a senior at Rutgers University and the vice president of Sigma Pi, said every year the fraternity tries to find a way to make a meaningful impact on campus through its ACE project.

“This past year, Kerri made us aware of this project that she wanted to do and we immediately saw the value that it would bring to the community,” he said. “Too many students dealing with the rising cost of a college education are not able to get themselves enough food, so we wanted to help with the food pantry as much as we could.”

Orsini told TapInto that it is every fraternity’s responsibility to make a positive impact on the community.

The pantry received more than 2,000 pounds of food this summer through the 18 summer orientations that were held asking the 8,000 incoming freshman to donate non-perishable food items.

Also, the pantry received many donations from faith-based groups at Rutgers University. The Center For Islamic Life at Rutgers donated more than 100 pounds of food, Willson said.

Capturing the Need

The Rutgers University-New Brunswick Campus has about 40,000 undergraduate students. Currently, there is a working group putting together statistics of how many students are in need, which will be released at the end of the month or early November.

This surveys are being distributed by the Division of Student Affairs with support from faculty in the School of Environmental and Biological Sciences, the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning Public Policy and other administrators throughout the university.

Willson said the move towards creating a food pantry on campus came from jarring statistics nationwide about food insecurities on college campuses. That included a study released by The City University of New York that found some 47 percent of the population across all 17 CUNY community college and four-year schools had issues with food insecurities.

As the school year continues, Willson said interns at the of Off-Campus Living and Community Partnerships will sustain inventory of the food pantry and work with various organizations to coordinate food drives and promote hunger awareness campaigns on campus.

The Community Foodbank of New Jersey works with college campuses, as well as more than 1,000 partner charities, including soup kitchens, food pantries and emergency shelters. The Rutgers project is part of a growing trend.

“I am starting to see the trend of many colleges addressing the issue of hunger on college campuses,” said Julienne Cherry, director of agency relations. “Many of the college pantries are working to make it as least invasive as possible while meeting the need of college students. I am happy to see these colleges closing the gap of college hunger.”

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

New Brunswick

The Jaffe Briefing - January 19, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

STATEWIDE - New Jersey Republicans are not crazy. That's the key message, as state GOP members plan to barnstorm the state to connect with local leaders, in an effort to create a wide gap from President Trump. Republicans in the post-Christie era find themselves struggling for relevancy and identity, sandwiched between a Trump presidency that hates ...

The Jaffe Briefing - January 18, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

STATEWIDE – The state has found a new, innovative way for you to wait on a line, unveiling a pair of mobile MVC offices. It is all about getting those friendly folks at the Motor Vehicle Commission to serve you even better, without the need for you to visit one of those dreadful offices and join various lines of equally-bored wannabe motorists. State ...

The Jaffe Briefing - January 16, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - Red-blooded New Jerseyans, in their respectable Republican cloth coats, have been dreading today. An actual breathing liberal, once again, takes over the governor's office and ruins everything. It was eight strong years of solid conservative stewardship, they think, as they trudge up the stairs of the War Memorial in Trenton, scuffing their ...

The Jaffe Briefing - January 12, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

YOUR BACKYARD - If we don't kill our bears, their children and grandchildren will be living in your backyard. That is one way to summarize a 12-page report from state wildlife officials, claiming that Gov.-elect Phil Murphy's plan to stop the bear hunts could cause their population to double by 2022, NJ.com reports. Murphy wants to ...

The Jaffe Briefing - January 11, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

UP THE CREEK - New Jersey has a weaker tax base, higher taxes and simmering fury amongst taxpayers. It is a recipe for financial trouble, reports The Wall Street Journal, noting it has been more than 20 years since New Jersey was current on its pension payments, leaving the state nearly $100 billion in the hole. And while ...

The Jaffe Briefing - January 10, 2018

OUR TAKE ON THE NEWS IN NEW JERSEY

TRENTON - Gov. Chris Christie talked for more than two hours yesterday, in his farewell "State of the State" address, highlighting all of his accomplishments. He served eight years (well, minus the two years he ran for President) and has done so much that we must recognize and appreciate. So, without further ado, free of slant or snark, here is ...

Upcoming Events

Carousel_image_f91ed86077ea29dfd56e_image

Tue, January 23

Plainsboro

Project Feeder Watch

Green Home & Garden

Carousel_image_f91ed86077ea29dfd56e_image

Wed, January 24

Plainsboro

Project Feeder Watch

Green Home & Garden

Wed, January 24, 8:00 PM

State Theatre New Jersey , New Brunswick

The Illusionists

Arts & Entertainment

Rutgers Historians Collecting 2018 Women's March Signs

January 21, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Believe it or not, we’re living through history right now. That’s why the Rutgers University Libraries want to collect artifacts and memorabilia from the present day.

If you took part in yesterday's women's march in Morristown, or one of the "sister" marches across the state, you should consider donating your signs and protest memorabilia ...

Rutgers Equestrian Team Coach Elected As IHSA Second Vice President

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Intercollegiate Horse Shows Association (IHSA) held their annual board meeting in Orlando, Florida, Jan. 3-6. The 55-member board met in general session and in individual committees during the three-day event.

Kelly Francfort Named Second Vice President

Kelly Francfort, coach of the Rutgers team, chair of IHSA Zone 3 and the public relations committee, was named ...

Burger Business Turns ​Off the Grill at The Yard

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ - Another business at The Yard@College Avenue, Bella’s Burger Shack, is now closed, and unlike the neighboring Starbucks, it​ has apparently​ left for good.

A sign had been posted on the front door of the restaurant, reading that Dec. 22, 2017 w​as the last day the shack would be in business.

Bella’s Burger Shack, which has its other location in ...

OPINION

Letter to the Editor: Proposed Medicaid Cuts Threaten Families

January 5, 2018

Medicaid – the safety next for millions of Americans – continues to be under attack.

Whether debating healthcare legislation, tax reform or deficit reduction, lawmakers see Medicaid as some magic source of ready-made cost savings. Many don’t seem to understand how intertwined Medicaid is within society; a lifeline for so many families – like mine.

I am the parent of ...

Girl Scout Cookie Program Runs Through March 11

January 19, 2018

EAST BRUNSWICK, NJ - From local businesses to popular shopping malls, Girl Scouts will be setting up cookie booths for their annual Cookie Program, the largest girl-led business in the nation. Girls will be selling cookies in central and southern New Jersey now through March 11.

Cookies include the classic Thin Mints and other goodies like the S’mores Cookie, Peanut Butter Patties, ...

Get Off the Couch. Walk the Dog. Live Longer.

January 15, 2018

“Sitting is the new smoking”. This is the new mantra in cardiology and global population health. Sitting, or a sedentary lifestyle, has long been known as a risk factor for the development of heart disease.

Excessive sitting is also associated with a higher mortality rate. Is sitting really as bad as smoking for your health? Why is sitting so detrimental? What strategies can combat ...