The Monmouth Bookstore is holding their 23rd Annual Food Drive in support of the Nest Food Pantry to provide necessities like canned goods, beverages, and toiletries for students on Monmouth University’s campus from Nov. 1 through Dec. 12.
Monmouth Bookstore’s annual food drive has been taking place for the last 23 years for students who have no source of food while on campus. Cashier of the Bookstore, Barbara Coleman, explained that former Assistant Manager Kathy Booth originally started the food drive in 2001. “[Booth] was friends with a local elementary school teacher who had expressed a desire to help feed some of her students. [She] got permission and the collected food went to Long Branch Elementary School,” Coleman explained, “When the Nest opened, we decided to keep the donated food here on campus for our students. I think that the Nest is a good idea as I realize that students frequently don’t have enough money to purchase all the food they may need.”
The Nest is a student-led organization to help provide a variety of valuable resources for Monmouth students. The Student Government Association (SGA) created the Nest Food Pantry in 2018 to support Monmouth University undergraduate and graduate students who do not have a meal-plan or struggle with food insecurity. Students can go to the Nest to select between non-perishable and refrigerated food items like pasta, canned foods, cereals, on-the-go snacks, beverages, and toiletries such as toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, toothbrushes. It is open every weekday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., and 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Wednesdays.
The Nest Chairperson Kellin Dantas said, “The Nest allows students to feel more secure and comfortable, knowing that they can stop by and grab something to nourish them for the week, or even just the day. Whether it is due to finance issues, or transportation barriers, the Nest welcomes anybody with open arms.” She emphasized the importance of utilizing the food pantry to ensure that it is always fully stocked and ready for students to come in and take what they need, whether it is food or hygiene products.
The yearly food drive expands the Nest’s pantry and helps give them the advantage of implementing more resources for students, including their biggest addition of a refrigerator for those who may want frozen or refrigerated goods.
Kiefer Walsh, Chief Justice of SGA and a volunteer of the Nest, expressed how uplifting it is to have a place where students can rely on obtaining goods free of charge. “Having the Nest is part of what makes Monmouth unique. This is [SGA’s] initiative to combat food insecurity, which I think is important to any campus community,” he said. “There are many on and off campus students who may have a hard time budgeting for groceries, and the Nest is that safe space that students can depend on when they are trying to save money.”
Psychology major Emilie Fernandez said, “The Food Drive is helping so much in allowing me to get the things that I need, and not just food wise, but with utilities and hygiene products as well.” She frequents the Nest in getting supplies that she needs for the week and is satisfied with the scope of goods that they provide for her and other students. “The Nest is for the students by the students. It’s here for us, and students should definitely use the Nest more to their advantage and let their friends know too.”
Dantas sees word of mouth as an important component to expand the mission of the pantry. She said, “I truly believe that mentioning the Nest and Food Drive to peers in class, or to anyone we encounter on campus, is the best way to make both the drive and the Nest more well-known. If professors were to spread the word to their students, I truly believe that the Nest and this Annual Food Drive could get the recognition that they truly deserve.”
The Bookstore dedicates the rest of the fall semester for the community to donate non-perishable items such as soups, microwavable meals, body care, and cleaning products. Donators who give at least six items receive a 20% discount coupon on all Monmouth University imprinted clothing and giftware. Last year, over 60 coupons were distributed in return for donations given. The drive takes place during their weekly store hours: 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. on weekdays and 12 p.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturdays.