With the help of the Office of Alumni Relations and Annual Giving, $10,000 was raised to support the Student Development and Campus Life on-campus food pantry. The money will be used for kitchen equipment and supplies to allow the pantry to open twice a month and give students access to proteins and perishable items.
Sonja Tillman, program assistant for Student Center Desk Operations and Dean of Students, is the coordinator of the Food Pantry and explained that people don’t realize how many students don’t have access to enough food.
According to Tillman, “A lot of students suffer from food insecurity, especially toward the end of the semester when meal plans start to run out. There are also students who don’t have meal plans at all, and we are trying to serve them as well.”
The food pantry will be open Thursday, Sept. 8 from 3-5:30 p.m., and is located on the first floor of the Student Center near the student ID office.
Eligibility requirements have changed for students for this semester. Originally, you had to be an active student without a meal plan, but in order to reach those with the most need, the staff has set up a new online system where eligibility is based on financial need, rather than just the existence of a meal plan.
While the pantry’s hours are limited, appointments are available for students who have a conflict in their schedules.
A microwave was recently donated to the pantry and refrigerators will be installed in the next few weeks. The refrigerators won’t be delivered until after the pantry’s first opening, so students will have to wait a few weeks before being able to get milk, cheese, eggs and meat.
The food pantry was initiated by Dr. Karen Pennington, vice president of student development and campus life, and launched last April as an effort to help students who suffer from food insecurity.
Prior to its opening, a survey was given to 200 students to assess the need, and according to a report on the university website, “Of the nearly 200 Montclair State students surveyed, 10% expressed food insecurity on a daily basis, while 15% expressed a need on weekly basis and 12% on a monthly basis.”
Tillman described the pantry as successful, due to the volume of students who have utilized these services. They are always looking for donations of nonperishable foods, toiletries, small kitchen appliances and feminine products.