It’s the season of giving, and Montclair State University’s students and faculty are in the holiday spirit.
Dr. Manveer Mann, an assistant professor of marketing at Montclair State, reached out to some students over the summer to help plan and organize a charitable event. The event was to create awareness around food insecurity while raising donations for nonprofit organizations.
Months of planning came to life as the doors of room 140 in the Feliciano School of Business opened on Wednesday, Nov. 14, welcoming students to partake in an autumn-themed pop-up market named Bite of Fall.
“This event is very meaningful for us as we want to make a positive impact in our local community,” Mann said. “We also hope that our event will engage students and staff members in an important issue of food insecurity that the local community faces.”
This is the third year that Mann has organized a charitable event, some of which have supported local and global non-profits, including Human Needs Food Pantry and Charity Water.
“Come out to experience a taste of this great season while exploring a market showcasing student organizations, as well as vendors from our local communities,” was written on flyers sprawled across a table outside of the event.
Participants were encouraged to bring cans of food to donate upon entry, which would be given to Toni’s Kitchen and Red Hawk Pantry, as well as the proceeds of the event.
Toni’s Kitchen is a food ministry of St Luke’s Episcopal Church located in Montclair. Best known for the homemade soup served, their goal is to create a community where all members have access to nutritious food.
The Red Hawk Pantry is located right on campus and is able to function with the generosity of Montclair State students, parents, faculty, staff and alumni donations that help fellow Red Hawks in need.
“We started planning this event in summer and started outreach in early fall,” Mann said. “It was a mixed experience in getting school organizations and restaurants involved. Some were very enthusiastic and others did not have the time or resources to participate.”
Different vendors from around the city of Montclair volunteered to set up booths where they had samples of food along with products available to purchase.
On campus, the Montclair State Dietetics Organization (MSDO), Food Recovery Network, Dining Services and Community Garden all contributed to the fall-themed market as well as the environmental and marketing clubs. Montclair Farms, Green Point Juicery, Wise Owl Bakery and Kung Fu Tea were just a few of the 11 outside vendors that signed up to help out.
“I hope [the event] brings awareness to students and faculty of the food insecurity that currently exists in Montclair,” said Katie Martel, a communications major with a minor in business. “Especially because we are part of the community, we should care about what is happening, as we all go to school here.”
Martel is one of five students that worked with Mann to create Bite of Fall. While this is her first time helping at a charity event, she said she could see herself volunteering more in the future.
“This event is meaningful to me because with it being the month of Thanksgiving and everyone, including myself, being excited for food that day, we often don’t think about the people who don’t have a meal to eat,” Martel said. “It’s so important to give back to the community because you are helping out people who really need it, and it’s always great to feel like you are making even the slightest of a difference.”
Stephanie Moscoso, a communications major with a minor in business, was another student pivotal in organizing the fall market.
“I always pick my corner in which I like to make a difference,” Moscoso said. “I may not be rich enough to give monetary help, [but] I always make sure to give back with my time and efforts. Every year I do something to give back, especially around the holidays, it’s important to always give back.”
Moscoso has been volunteering for years, whether it is helping create an event or supporting a cause, such as UNICEF.
“I will always see myself volunteering, no matter how I do it,” Moscoso said, “but it’s something that is embedded in me because I genuinely love doing so.”