Student Food Pantry 2

Student Food Pantry in New Location

The University’s Student Government Association (SGA) has moved the student food pantry, which aids students who experience food insecurity, to the Rebecca Stafford Student Center on Jan. 22. 

“The Nest,” as the food pantry is called to reflect the University’s Hawk mascot, first started in the spring of 2018 and was originally located in Laurel Hall where only 12 students had access to it.

However, it has since been relocated to a more populous location, on the ground floor of the Rebecca Stafford Student Center. 

Currently, The Nest is open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m., with more hours soon to come. It is nearly fully stocked of non-perishable items such as cereal, oatmeal, granola bars, soup, canned fruit and vegetables, pasta, and even limited gluten-free options.

Toiletry items such as shampoo, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushs, and even tampons can also be found at the Nest.

Syed Mehdi Husaini, a junior biology student and President of the SGA, is thrilled to see the positive impact The Nest is bringing to the University.

He said, “On a more macroscopic level, I believe that the presence of an effort like this, as well as the resounding approval it has in the community, will allow for students, faculty, and administration at Monmouth to come together and deepen the relationship we all have by caring for one another.”

Those eligible to use the pantry include undergraduate and graduate University students who do not have a meal plan. Since students who have a meal plan have a free range of food options, they are not titled to use The Nest.

Student Food Pantry 3However, Husaini explained that they are not currently worried about students taking advantage of it because their main goal is just to help every student who does not have a meal plan.

R’reanna Hester, a senior communication student, said, “I think it is awesome that the school realizes how tough it is for many students, even when it comes to having a meal. I work and eating out around here can really empty your pockets fast,” she said.

SGA receives food and toiletries for The Nest solely through donations. Anyone can donate in labeled containers found in four different locations throughout campus: the main entrance to Wilson Hall, next to Career Services, across from the information booth, or SGA’s office located on the third floor of the Rebecca Stanford Student Center. 

However, if donations begin to dwindle, Vaughn Clay, Ph.D., Director of Off Campus and Commuter Service and an advisor to SGA, explained that SGA could allocate a portion of its budget to restock. 

The idea for a food pantry was fostered after SGA members and faculty attended the Conference on Student Government Association (COSGA) in Texas, where they learned that an average of 30 percent of college students in America have a food insecurity. “Based on the rate of 30 percent of college students being hungry, that’s potentially 800 students at Monmouth University,” said Clay.

Clay worries there is a stigma that comes with using a food pantry and wants to ensure students are not afraid. “There is nothing wrong with coming [to The Nest]. It’s the same as if you needed help with a class, you go to tutoring. If you need help eating, go to The Nest. That way students aren’t worried about their next meal, and they can focus on class more,” he said.

“This is an awesome opportunity for students who don’t have money. But they may feel greedy or embarrassed to come here,” said Christina Moffett, a junior communication student, who has been utilizing the food pantry. Members of SGA have recognized that issue and want to ensure that no Monmouth student goes hungry. 

Nick Verzicco, a senior finance student and Senior SGA Senator, welcomes students to utilize the pantry. “I want students to feel like they are shopping at a mini Shop Rite. They can come down here and get anything they need for free,” he said.

A truck full of fresh produce was expected to be parked outside the Rebecca Stanford Student Center from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. for students without a meal plan to stop by and fill a bag of healthy food.

However, due to inclement weather, the delivery is postponed, and the SGA is working to reschedule.

PHOTOS COURTESY of Kaitlin Korgeski