By Michelle Lampariello
As part of an effort to combat food insecurity on campus, a new food pantry in Campus Town will provide essential food and personal care items to students and local community members in need of resources.
Dubbed The SHOP@TCNJ, the pantry was established through the combined efforts of Campus Police, Student Affairs, Academic Affairs, the Bonner Institute and the Mercer Street Friends Food Bank. It is located inside the Campus Police substation in Campus Town, on the north side of the building that houses the fitness center. The pantry is set to have a soft opening later this month and is currently in the process of recruiting and training volunteers.
From Thursday, Jan. 31 to March 1, the campus community is encouraged to donate non-perishable food items to the Dean of Students Office in the Brower Student Center Room 220. The SHOP accepts food contributions such as pancake mix, pasta, microwaveable meals, cereal, shelf stable milk, instant oatmeal, protein bars, snack items including granola bars and shelf stable pudding cups, condiments, spices and pasta sauce. New or unopened home and beauty products, including soaps, detergent, paper products and toothbrushes, as well as socks, underwear, women’s leggings and men’s sweatpants of any size that are either new or still in their packaging can also be donated.
A 2018 study from the Wisconsin HOPE Lab found that in a 30-day period, 36 percent of college students and 42 percent of community college students felt food insecure — a term used to describe the struggle to access enough food on a daily basis, according to NPR.
Interim Associate Dean of Students Elizabeth Gallus underscored the importance of ensuring students having enough to eat, and feels the new pantry will give those who struggle a much-needed resource.
“For students, this type of support can decrease barriers preventing them from peak performance both in and out of the classroom,” Gallus said. “Additionally, it has the potential to build connections to other resources for more sustainable, long term options such as utilizing the CARE program in the Dean of Students Office.”
The SHOP will be open two days per week, year round. After the campus-wide call for donations ends on March 1, the pantry will continue to be stocked with help from Mercer Street Friends, a Trenton-based food bank.
In addition to the support from Mercer Street Friends, the College will continue to host food drives such as the annual Cram a Cruiser event organized by Campus Police and Sodexo.
The pantry is also accepting monetary donations through the Division of College Advancement. To donate, visit the College website, click “give now,” and select the fund “The SHOP@TCNJ.”