Cabrini Cupboard: Alleviating the decision between hunger and education

By Cecelia Heckman
September 6, 2016

cc can flyer

cc can flyer

Walking into the cafeteria and having to decide between another form of chicken with a different type of sauce on it or having fries for the third dinner in a row is the tough decision many students on a college campus face. For some students, the luxury of that choice is not always there.

According to the 2014 Hunger in America report by Feeding America, almost one in three students reporter that in some point during that year, they had to decide between spending their money on food or paying for their continued education.

Food insecurity has become a growing issue on college campuses in the past years and many campuses are looking to give students a chance to combat that through on-campus food banks. This year, Cabrini will officially be opening their food bank, Cabrini Cupboard, to students who are suffering from food insecurity, per recommendation from services like residence life, counseling and psychological services, campus ministry or the Wolfington Center.

“Cabrini Cupboard is our food bank for students on campus who are having emergency food issues,” Thomas Southard, director of the Wolfington Center, said. “So for students on campus who are not able to access enough food to get them through the week, who might not be able to afford a full meal plan, who might need other resources.”

The Cabrini Cupboard will be started through a grant from the Leo and Peggy Pierce Foundation, which Cabrini received in order to deal with food insecurity issues within the Philadelphia region. According to Southard, the idea for the project has been coming for years, but after a survey was sent out to students last year asking about their opinions on a need for a food pantry, the idea was solidified and the plan was set into action.

The cupboard will not be providing full meals, but will be supplemental for students who are in need of some extra support. “What we’ll do is provide some of the basics that students can use to supplement their meals,” Southard said. “So, it might be that you can come and get some peanut butter and jelly and ramen and just things that if you otherwise can’t afford it, would be very helpful to you.”

In opening their food pantry, Cabrini also became one of 359 members (as of Sept. 1, 2016) of the College and University Food Bank Alliance (CUFBA). The alliance contains many schools of all different types and sizes including Kutztown University, West Chester University, Wilson College, Bloomsburg University and Chatham University, just to name a few others in Pennsylvania.

Montgomery County Community College started their food pantry, known as the Stock Up for Success Program (SUP), in January of 2014. Corissa Reilly, the interim assistant director of civic and community engagement at the college, said help from students is part of what keeps the pantry successful.

“At this point we do not have students involved with the operations of SUP; however, student clubs have been very active in incorporating the program into their fundraisers,” Reilly said in an email. “All clubs are required to complete a community service project, and we often have clubs that do SUP fundraisers, or hold events that ask for an SUP item as an entry fee. “

Southard hopes the same will type of support will follow for Cabrini Cupboard in the future. “We’re hoping that student groups might be interested in doing food drives for the pantry or might be interested in finding other ways to support the pantry,” Southard said. “Our goal is to never have students working in the pantry when there are students who are receiving food from the pantry.”

Southard reiterated that this was only to protect the anonymity of the students using the pantry if for any reason they did not want other students knowing about their usage. Anonymity is also important to Penn State’s pantry, known as Lion’s Pantry, which opened for use in Spring 2015.

“We do not take any information from the students when they come to the pantry,” Stephanie Crane, co-president of Lion’s Pantry, said. “Therefore, we do not know their names unless they feel comfortable volunteering that information. We simply ask to see their student IDs to ensure that they are students at the university.”

With knowledge of success from many other pantries across the country, there are high hopes and so far positive responses to the opening of the Cabrini Cupboard.

“I think there’s so much respect for dignity of the human person, there’s so much care and compassion for all people that most people don’t see this as a negative, they see this as an action that we should be taking,” Southard said.

Cecelia Heckman

Junior Editor-in-Chief/ Executive Content Manager of Loquitur. Digital Communications and Social Media major with a Business Administration minor. Student ambassador, Assistant Operations Manager of WYBF and show co-host, President of Alpha Lambda Delta, member of the Society for Collegiate Journalists and member of the Cabrini Honor's Program.

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