Permanent food pantry constructed in Orlando House

Haljit BasuljevicReporter

For one-third of the students on campus, food insecurity is an issue. Because trying to relieve the problem can be personally difficult, Orlando House’s food pantry offers help that students do not have to shy away from.

Public Health Department Secretary Michelle Mann said the reception towards the food pantry has been encouraging.

Since its official launch starting this semester, she has seen a dozen or so students quietly flow in and out of the pantry on a regular basis.

Inside a small closet situated on the second floor of the Orlando House, pretzel bags and canned vegetables and fruits are stuffed and stacked on top of each other.

Below them are two drawers distinguished by labels ranging from whole grains to proteins.

What began as a small gift to a select number of students became an open source for those who needed help.

“We felt strongly that we wanted there to be no barriers, or at least as few as possible. No forms to fill out. No questions asked”, said Mann.

The free-flowing manner in which any student can walk in and leave the building is exactly the type of comfort the faculty had wanted, said Orlando House university assistant Ellen Clinesmith said.

Although heavy research is a difficult right now, she said simple tallies of what is being taken and head counts of students gives faculty enough information to meet their needs.

Part of this is to assess and tackle larger issues, such as homelessness. The idea is to keep observation on whether students who take the food are heating them up at their dorms or eating in their cars.

“I’d like to see a more coordinated effort. I think the discreteness of having it decentralized in various places throughout campus can make it more comfortable for the student receiving the support,” said Mann.

The Mobile Food Pantry arrives monthly in Connecticut Hall is also another option for students who suffer from food insecurity. Although, it has yet to make its semester debut.

Public health professor Victoria Zigmont said students may gravitate towards Connecticut Hall because it is closer to school.

Zigmont also said while they intend to keep the shelves stocked with foods that are more or less ideally nutritional, any type of donation is more than welcome.

The staff said they have been astounded by the progress they have made and are hopeful to implement more ideas to alleviate food insecurity.

Zigmont said she will be attending a meeting at the Yale Symposium to discuss the methods and issues of food insecurity.

Photo Credit: August Pelliccio

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